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Occupation and Risk of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Zheng, Tongzhang ScD; Blair, Aaron PhD; Zhang, Yawei MD; Weisenburger, Dennis D. MD; Zahm, Shelia H. ScD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: May 2002 - Volume 44 - Issue 5 - p 469-474

To investigate the association between occupation and the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and to test whether the associations may vary by histological type of NHL, we analyzed data from two population-based, case-control studies of NHL performed in Kansas and Nebraska. A total of 555 incident NHL cases, 56 CLL cases, and 2380 population-based controls were included in the analysis. Information on occupation and other confounding factors was collected through telephone interviews. Study pathologists reviewed slides of tumor tissues in all cases. In men, we found an increased risk of NHL and CLL for those working in agricultural, forestry, and logging industries (odds ratio [OR], 1.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2 to 2.1). The OR was 1.9 (95% CI, 1.4 to 2.6) for those producing crops. An increased risk was also observed for industries involving metalworking machinery and equipment (OR, 8.4; 95% CI, 1.4 to 50.6), motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment (OR, 4.2; 95% CI, 1.3 to 13.9), and telephone communications (OR, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.2 to 8.0), and for teachers (OR, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.0 to 6.5), farmers (OR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.5 to 2.8), and welders and solderers (OR, 2.9; 95% CI, 1.2 to 6.9). The risks for these associations increased by duration of employment and seem to vary by histological type. Work in the printing and publishing industry was also associated with an increased risk of NHL among women. These data suggest that the workers employed in these industries or occupations experienced an increased risk of NHL and CLL, and the risks associated with these industries or occupations may vary by histological type of NHL.

From the Division of Environmental Health Science, Yale University School of Public Health (Dr Zheng, Dr Zhang); the Occupational Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute (Dr Blair, Dr Zahm); and the Department of Pathology and Microbiology, University of Nebraska Medical Center (Dr Weisenburger).

Address correspondence to: Dr Tongzhang Zheng, 129 Church Street, Suite 700, New Haven, CT 06510;

This article was co-written by employees of the US Government as part of their official duties; therefore, it is not subject to US copyright.

©2002The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine