BACKGROUND: Studies of the aetiology of fatal diseases often rely on data obtained from relatives, which can cause loss of precision and introduce bias. We assessed the quality of such information on demographics, occupation, smoking and alcohol habits. METHODS: We compared contemporary interviews, based on a structured questionnaire, with male workers from the man-made vitreous fibre production industry in four European countries and their relatives. The participation rate was 63% (74 pairs of workers and relatives). RESULTS: Only minor differences in the ability to answer the questions appeared among workers and relatives, except for specific occupational questions. There was moderate to excellent agreement for demographics, residential and work history (kappa or intraclass correlation range: 0.44-0.98). For smoking habits, beer and wine consumption the agreement was good to excellent (range: 0.59-0.99). In particular, number of different residential areas, jobs, industries, and duration of wine drinking were significantly underreported by the relatives. No general determinant for reduced agreement appeared. CONCLUSIONS: In general, the quality of information obtained from relatives appeared good. However, information on specific occupational exposures may be improved by supplementing the information from relatives with details obtained from colleagues, occupational hygiene experts or occupation-exposure matrices.
OBJECTIVES: To investigate the relation between occupational hazards among nickel refinery workers and their exposure to different forms of nickel over time and the interaction between smoking and total exposure to nickel. METHODS: The cohort consisted of 379 workers with first employment 1916-40 and at least three years of employment and 4385 workers with at least one year of employment 1946-83. Data on smoking (ever or never) were available for almost 95% of the cohort. Two analyses were used, indirect standardisation from observed and expected numbers and Poisson regression. RESULTS: During the follow up 1953-93, 203 new cases of lung cancer were observed v 68 expected (standardised incidence ratio (SIR) 3.0, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 2.6-3.4) and 32 cases of nasal cancer were observed v 1.8 expected (SIR 18.0, 95% CI 12-25). The Poisson regression analysis showed an excess risk of lung cancer in association with exposure to soluble forms of nickel, with a threefold increase in relative risk (RR) (P
While factory-made cigarettes dominate the market in most countries, the use of handrolled cigarettes accounts for a substantial proportion of the tobacco consumption in Norway. In the present study, we examined the impact of tobacco smoking on lung cancer in general, and the effect of handrolled cigarettes in particular. The data used was from a self-administered mailed questionnaire which included questions about smoking habits and which was completed by about 26,000 men and women in 1964-65. During the follow-up from 1966 to 1993, 333 lung cancers in men and 102 in women were registered. The analysis was performed by use of the Cox proportional hazards regression models. A clear dose-response relationship was found both for cigarette smoking, and for pipe smoking (in men). The dose-response relationship of cigarette smoking was seen in all the three histologic groups considered-squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and small cell carcinoma. The highest relative risks were noted in squamous cell and small cell carcinoma. A higher risk of lung cancer was found for cigarette-smoking women who started cigarette smoking before the age of 30 compared with similar groups of men. In a combined analysis of men and women, an elevated relative risk of 1.9 (95 percent confidence interval = 1.2-3.3) was found for those smoking only handrolled cigarettes compared with those smoking factory-made filter cigarettes only.
OBJECTIVES. The objective of the study was to examine cancer incidence and identify risk factors among subjects born in 1925-1971 and engaged in agricultural activities in Norway. METHODS. A cohort was established through linkage between agricultural censuses in 1969-1989 and the Central Population Register, which identifies farm holders and their spouses. Available census information on the activity of the farm provided the exposure indicators. Incident cancer in 1969-1991 was identified in the Cancer Register. In an analysis for standardized incidence ratios (SIR), the cohort was compared with the total rural population of Norway. Associations with exposure indicators were investigated in a Poisson regression analysis. RESULTS. In the follow-up of 136,463 men for 1.5 million person-years and 109,641 women for 0.6 million person-years, 3333 and 2145 cancer cases were identified, respectively. The subset defined as farmers had an SIR of 77 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 73-81] for the men and 92 (95% CI 85-99) for the women, with particularly low SIR values for lung cancer and other sites linked to life-style. The several positive associations found confirmed the a priori hypothesis of an association between dairy farming and acute leukemia among men [rate ratio 1.76, 95% CI 1.02-3.05]. Multiple myeloma was associated with pesticide indicators for both genders, mainly for subjects cultivating potatoes. CONCLUSIONS. The results support the hypothesis of a relationship between acute leukemia and animal contact and between multiple myeloma and pesticides in potato cultivation. Other exposure associations, especially for cancer among women, warrant further investigation.
Exposure to electromagnetic fields may cause breast cancer in women if it increases susceptibility to sex-hormone-related cancer by diminishing the pineal gland's production of melatonin. We have studied breast cancer incidence in female radio and telegraph operators with potential exposure to light at night, radio frequency (405 kHz-25 MHz), and, to some extent, extremely low frequency fields (50 Hz). We linked the Norwegian Telecom cohort of female radio and telegraph operators working at sea to the Cancer Registry of Norway to study incident cases of breast cancer. The cohort consisted of 2,619 women who were certified to work as radio and telegraph operators between 1920 and 1980. Cancer incidence was analyzed on the basis of the standardized incidence ratio (SIR), with the Norwegian female population as the comparison group. The incidence of all cancers was close to unity (SIR = 1.2). An excess risk was seen for breast cancer (SIR = 1.5). Analysis of a nested case-control study within the cohort showed an association between breast cancer in women aged 50+ years and shift work. In a model with adjustment for age, calendar year, and year of first birth, the rate ratio for breast cancer associated with being a radio and telegraph operator--in comparison with all Norwegian women born 1935 or later--analyzed with Poisson regression, was 1.5 after adjustment for fertility factors. These results support a possible association between work as a radio and telegraph operator and breast cancer. Future epidemiologic studies on breast cancer in women aged 50 and over, should address possible disturbances of chronobiological parameters by environmental factors.
OBJECTIVES: To investigate associations between exposures in the silicon carbide (SiC) industry and mortality from non-malignant diseases. METHODS: Mortality among 2562 men, working in one of three silicon carbide smelters was investigated, giving 52,618 person-years of follow up from 1962 to 1996. Dose-response relations were investigated by internal comparisons using Poisson regression and by stratified standardised mortality ratio (SMR) analyses. RESULTS: Mortality from all causes was significantly raised compared with the Norwegian mortalities among men, SMR=1.12, (95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.05 to 1.20). An excess mortality from asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis combined was found, SMR=2.21 (95% CI 1.61 to 2.95), increasing from 1.05 in the unexposed category to 2.64 (95% CI 1.44 to 4.43) in the upper category of exposure to total dust. The Poisson regression analysis confirmed the results from the stratified SMR analyses, and suggested that smoking did not act as a confounder. No association was found for circulatory mortality. CONCLUSIONS: There was an increased mortality from asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis combined among SiC workers exposed to dust.
This study investigated the potential association between organochlorine exposure and breast cancer using stored sera collected from 1973 through 1991 from the Janus Serum Bank in Norway. Breast cancer cases were ascertained prospectively from among 25,431 female serum bank donors. A total of 150 controls were matched to cases by birth dates and dates of sample collection. One g of serum per subject was analyzed for a total of 71 organochlorine compounds. For 6 pesticides [B-hexachlorocyclohexane, heptachlor epoxide, oxychlordane, trans-nonachlor, p, p'-1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene, and p, p'-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)-1,1,1-trichloroethane] and 26 individual polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners there were >90% of samples over the limit of detection. There was no evidence for higher mean serum levels among cases for any of these compounds, nor any trend of increasing risk associated with higher quartiles of exposure. The remaining compounds (including dieldrin) were analyzed with respect to the proportion of cancer cases and controls having detectable levels; no positive associations were noted in these analyses. Our study did not confirm the recent findings of a Danish study of increased concentrations of dieldrin in the serum of breast cancer cases. The evidence to date on the association between serum organochlorines is not entirely consistent, but there is accumulating evidence that serum levels of p, p'-1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene and total PCBs are not important predictors for breast cancer in the general population. Studies to date have not been able to evaluate whether exposure to highly estrogenic, short-lived PCB congeners increases breast cancer risk, nor have they fully evaluated the risk associated with organochlorine exposure in susceptible subgroups or at levels above general population exposure, including women with occupational exposure.
Testicular cancer incidence is increasing rapidly in several countries. Environmental causes acting early in life are suspected but have not yet been identified. We conducted a cohort study to identify parental risk factors for testicular cancer among farmers' sons. Children born in 1952-1991 to parents who were farm holders at the time of the agricultural censuses in 1969-1989 were identified in the Central Population Register (Oslo, Norway). The resulting cohort of male offspring (n = 166,291) were followed up in the Cancer Registry of Norway (Oslo, Norway) for 1965-1991. Exposure indicators were derived from census information on activities on the farm. The cancer incidence was compared with that of the total rural population, and potential risk factors were analyzed by Poisson regression. In a follow-up of 2,924,663 person-years, 158 incident cases of testicular cancer were identified. The study population had a higher incidence of testicular cancer than did the total rural population, particularly at ages 15-19 years and in western Norway. Specific fertilizer regimens on the farm were associated with testicular cancer (rate ratio = 2.44; 95% confidence interval = 1.66-3.56), in particular nonseminoma (rate ratio = 4.21; 95% confidence interval = 2.13-8.32). The rate ratio estimates were highest for boys ages 15-19 years and for a subset of study subjects who were considered more likely to have grown up on a farm. Nondifferential misclassification and bias toward unity are likely because exposure information was available only at the farm level and only for census years. The fertilizer indicators were not available early in life for most subjects, and precise interpretations are difficult. A hypothesis worth considering is that excess nutrient run-off from agriculture constitutes a risk. However, inferences concerning the biological basis of our observations can scarcely be made.