Environment and Breast Cancer: Science Review

Evidence From Humans
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Cancer mortality in health and science technicians
Burnett, C., Robinson, C., Walker, J. Am J Ind Med. 1999. 36:1, 155-8.
Topic area
Environmental pollutant - Occupation, organic solvent
Study design
Other: Surveillance
Study Participants
Menopausal Status
The menopausal status of women included in this study is listed here.
Pre menopausal
Post menopausal
Number of Controls
Surveillance: 12,109 cancer deaths (522 breast cancers)
Participant selection: Inclusion and exclusion criteria
Criteria used to select participants in the study.
Women 18-90 with a death certificate reported occupation who died of cancer. Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, who work in healthcare settings, and science technicians, who work primarily in manufacturing industries. Data from the National Occupational Mortality Surveillance database.
Exposure Investigated
Exposures investigated
Occupation recorded on death certificates
Exposure assessment comment
No information about intensity or duration of exposure. Much misclassification is likely.
Statistical Analysis
Breast cancer outcome investigated
Mortality from breast cancer from 1984-1995
Ethnic groups with separate analysis
If this study provided a separate analysis by ethnic or racial group, the groups are listed here.
Confounders considered
Other breast cancer risk factors, such as family history, age at first birth, and hormone replacement therapy use, that were taken into account in the study.
Genetic characterization included
If the study analyzed relationships between environmental factors and inherited genetic variations, this field will be marked “Yes.” “No”, if not.
Description of major analysis
Proportionate cancer mortality ratios
Strength of associations reported
Clinical laboratory technologists PCMR 112 (100-125); for ages 18-64, PCMR 114 (100-130)
Science technicians PCMR 99 (81-119); ages 18-564 PCMR 90 (68-116)
No elevated risk for radiologic technicians.
Results Comments
Comparison with other cancer deaths limits interpretation, because occupational exposures may affect multiple cancer endpoints. Mortality is an insensitive indicator for breast cancer.
Author address
Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226, USA. CAB9@CDC.GOV