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Association Between Pulmonary Dysfunction as a Result of Occupational Exposures and Risk of Developing Cancer

Pahwa, Punam PhD; Karunanayake, Chandima P. PhD; Dosman, James A. MD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: December 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 12 - p 1471–1480
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182623095
Original Articles
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Background: Cohen's hypothesis states that pulmonary dysfunction is the underlying unifying factor that leads to numerous health risks of inhaled toxicants.

Objective: To test the idea postulated by Cohen.

Methods: We compiled a retrospective cohort (n = 8024) composed of participants in eight population-based research and occupational studies conducted between 1977 and 1989. Smoking history, occupational exposures, health indicators, and demographic information were obtained by questionnaire. Pulmonary function was assessed by spirometry.

Results: Cox proportional hazards models were utilized to test the Cohen's hypothesis. Risk of developing cancer increased (hazard ratio, 1.31; 95% confidence interval, 1.02 to 1.67) if a subject had an obstructive pulmonary disease at baseline.

Conclusion: Impaired lung function caused by environmental and occupational exposures is one of the risk factors for the incidence of cancer.

From the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology (Dr Pahwa) and Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture (Drs Pahwa, Karunanayake, and Dosman), University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Address correspondence to: Punam Pahwa, PhD, Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture, 103 Hospital Dr, PO Box 120, Royal University Hospital, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, S7N 0W8 (pup165@mail.usask.ca).

This research was supported financially by Health Canada and the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture, University of Saskatchewan.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Copyright © 2012 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine