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Brain Tumors among Electronics Industry Workers

Beall Colleen; Delzell, Elizabeth; Cole, Philip; Brill, Ilene
Epidemiology: March 1996

We evaluated the relation between work experience in the United States operations of an electronics company and brain tumor mortality, focusing on video display terminal (VDT) development jobs. Subjects were 149 brain tumor cases and 591 matched controls selected from a company registry of all employees dying between 1975 and 1989. Company databases and interviews with company personnel constituted the basis for work histories, including information on whether subjects had held VDT development jobs. Subjects who worked at plants with hardware or VDT development operations had slightly but imprecisely elevated odds ratios (OR). The study found no meaningful association between VDT development work and brain tumor mortality. Other results included an elevated OR for 10 or more years of employment in engineering/technical jobs [OR = 1.7; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.0–3.0] or in programming jobs (OR = 2.8; 95% CI = 1.1–7.0). The OR for glioma for all subjects who had accrued 5 years of programming work 10 years before the case's death was 3.9 (95% CI = 1.2–12.4). These associations were limited in large part to one of four division groups. Also, only male programmers experienced an elevated OR. These patterns indicate that the associations may be due to chance, although unidentified causal exposures present in a subset of engineering/technical and programming jobs cannot be ruled out.

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