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Kidney Cancer Risk in Oil Refining in Finland: A Nested Case-Referent Study

Anttila, Ahti PhD; Pokhrel, Arun PhD; Heikkilä, Pirjo PhD; Viinanen, Riitta MSc; Pukkala, Eero PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2015 - Volume 57 - Issue 1 - p 68–72
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000301
Original Articles

Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess whether occupational exposure to hydrocarbons in the oil-refining activity increases the risk of kidney cancer.

Methods: This case-referent study was nested within the cohort of employees in the oil refinery industry in Finland in 1967 to 1982 (n = 9454). The final data included 30 cases of kidney cancer and 81 age- and sex-matched referents.

Results: There was a threefold increase in the kidney cancer risk for exposure to hydrocarbons in crude oil (odds ratio, 3.1; confidence interval, 1.1 to 8.9; 11 exposed cases). The risk was associated with the highest cumulative exposure category to hydrocarbons in crude oil.

Conclusions: Occupational exposure in oil refining, particularly to crude oil, may increase kidney cancer risk. The study assessed historical exposures; further information needs to be collected for evaluating current exposures.

From the Finnish Cancer Registry (Drs Anttila, Pokhrel, and Pukkala), Institute for Statistical and Epidemiological Cancer Research, Unioninkatu 22; Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (Dr Heikkilä), Topeliuksenkatu 41aA, Helsinki; RV Chem Oy (Mr Viinanen), Ruoriniemenkatu 12, Lahti; and School of Health Sciences (Dr Pukkala), University of Tampere, Finland.

Address correspondence to: Ahti Anttila, PhD, Finnish Cancer Registry, Unioninkatu 22, FI-00130 Helsinki, Finland (

The study has been funded by the Finnish Cancer Registry.

Riitta Viinanen has formerly worked as a lead occupational hygienist in the Neste Oil company.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2015 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine