Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2007;33(1):66-73    pdf


Cancer risk among 43 000 Norwegian nurses

by Lie J-AS, Andersen A, Kjærheim K

Objectives This study evaluated the influence of occupational exposure on cancer risk among female Norwegian nurses.

Methods A historical prospective cohort study was performed. The cohort was established from the Norwegian Board of Health’s registry of nurses and included women who graduated from a nursing school before 1985. The cohort (N=43 316) was linked to the Cancer Registry of Norway. The observed number of cases was compared with the expected number on the basis of national rates. Time since first employment, period of first employment, and duration of employment were used as indicators of exposure. Poisson regression analyses were used for internal comparisons, adjusting for age, period, and fertility.

Results The nurses were followed over 1 473 931 person-years. During the follow-up (1953–2002), 6193 cancer cases were observed. The standardized incidence ratio (SIR) for all cancers combined was close to unity. Significantly lower risks were found for cancers with a known association with alcohol and tobacco consumption and sexual activity. A significantly increased risk was found for breast cancer (SIR 1.14, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.09–1.19), ovarian cancer (SIR 1.14, 95% CI 1.04–1.25), malignant melanoma (SIR 1.15, 95% CI 1.04–1.28), and borderline significant risk appeared for other skin cancer (SIR 1.12, 95% CI 0.98–1.29). A positive trend for increasing time since first exposure was found for breast cancer and malignant melanoma.

Conclusions The results indicate an association between working as a nurse and an increased risk of breast cancer and malignant melanoma. Decreased risks, found for several cancers, indicate favorable lifestyle habits among nurses.

This article refers to the following texts of the Journal: 1998;24(3):175-182  1999;25 suppl 2:1-116
The following articles refer to this text: 2008;34(1):5-22; 2009;35(6):446-453; 2010;36(2):163-179