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Cancer and Benign Tumor Incidence Among Employees in a Polymers Research Complex

Beall, Colleen DrPH; Delzell, Elizabeth SD; Rodu, Brad DDS; Sathiakumar, Nalini MD, DrPH; Myers, Susan BBA

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2001 - Volume 43 - Issue 10 - p 914-924
Original Articles

The detection of several intracranial tumors among employees in one building complex (C500) at a petrochemical research facility prompted investigation of a possible workplace cause. This retrospective follow-up study included 1847 subjects, of whom 1735 had worked in C500. Medical records, death certificates, and Illinois State Cancer Registry data confirmed self-reported cancers and tumors. Analyses compared the subjects’ cancer and benign intracranial tumor incidence rates with national general population rates. C500 employees had 15% fewer than expected total cancers (92 observed/108 expected; standardized incidence ratio [SIR], 85; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 69 to 104). An excess of brain cancer (6/2.0; SIR, 302; 95% CI, 111 to 657) was concentrated among white men who had 10 or more years since hire and 5 or more years of C500 employment (4/0.7; SIR, 602; 95% CI, 165 to 1552) and who had worked in a particular building of C500 (5/0.7; SIR, 735; 95% CI, 239 to 1716). An excess of benign intracranial tumors (6/1.6; SIR, 385; 95% CI, 142 to 839) was not restricted to a single type of tumor and was not concentrated in any particular building. Occupational exposure may have caused the increased rate of brain cancer but is a less likely explanation for the elevated rate of benign intracranial tumors.

From the Department of Epidemiology and International Health, School of Public Health (Dr Beall, Dr Delzell, Dr Sathiakumar, Ms Myers) and the Department of Pathology, School of Medicine (Dr Rodu), University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Address correspondence to: Dr Colleen Beall, Department of Epidemiology and International Health, School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 220A Royals Building, 1665 University Boulevard, Birmingham, AL 35294-0022;

This research was funded under a contract from BP Amoco to The University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Copyright © by American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.