The number of cancers caused by occupation in the UK

L Rushton, S Bagga, R Bevan, T B Brown, J W Cherie, L Fortunato, P Holmes, S J Hutchings, K James, R Slack, M Van Tongeren, C Young

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Prioritising control of occupationally-related cancers should be evidence based. The current burden of cancer in Great Britain attributable to occupation for IARC group 1 and 2A carcinogens has been estimated. Attributable fractions and numbers for mortality/incidence were calculated using risk estimates from published literature and national data sources to estimate proportions exposed. Cancer deaths attributable to occupation in 2005 are 5.3% (8023) (men: 8.2% (6366); women 2.3% (1657)). Attributable incidence estimates are 13694 (4.0%) cancer registrations (men: 10074 (5.7%); women 3620 (2.1%)). Occupational attributable fractions are over 2% for mesothelioma, sinonasal, lung, nasopharynx, breast, non-melanoma skin, bladder, oesophagus, soft tissue sarcoma and stomach cancers. Asbestos, shift work, mineral oils, solar radiation, silica, diesel engine exhaust, coal tars and pitches, occupation as a painter or welder, dioxins, environmental tobacco smoke, radon, tetrachloroethylene, arsenic and strong inorganic mists each contribute 100+ registrations. Industries/occupations with over 200 cancer registrations include construction, women's shift work, metal working, personal/household services, mining, land transport, printing/publishing, retail/hotels/restaurants, public administration/defence, farming and several manufacturing sectors. This study is the first detailed cancer burden study using all IARC 1 and 2A carcinogens and quantifying the contribution of individual industry sectors. The methodology provides a basis for adaptation for use in other countries and global occupational burden estimation and for extension to include social and economic impact evaluation. The results highlight specific carcinogenic agents and the occupational circumstances and industrial areas where exposures to these agents occurs, facilitating prioritization of risk reduction strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAsia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons Ltd
Number of pages1
ISBN (Electronic)1743-7563
ISBN (Print)1743-7555
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011

Publication series

NameAsia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology


  • Australia
  • United Kingdom
  • adaptation
  • agricultural worker
  • arsenic
  • asbestos
  • bladder
  • breast
  • cancer mortality
  • cancer registry
  • carcinogen
  • coal tar
  • diesel engine
  • dioxin
  • esophagus
  • evidence based practice
  • exposure
  • female
  • human
  • industrial area
  • industry
  • lung
  • male
  • melanoma
  • mesothelioma
  • metal
  • methodology
  • mineral oil
  • nasopharynx
  • neoplasm
  • occupation
  • painter
  • radon
  • registration
  • risk
  • risk reduction
  • shift worker
  • silicon dioxide
  • skin
  • society
  • soft tissue sarcoma
  • solar radiation
  • stomach cancer
  • tetrachloroethylene
  • tobacco smoke
  • welding


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