Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2002;28(5):333-340    pdf


Gliomas among men employed in the Swedish pulp and paper industry

by Andersson E, Nilsson R, Torén K

Objectives This study investigated whether previous findings of an increased risk of gliomas among workers in some pulp and paper mills could be confirmed for all Swedish pulp and paper mill workers and whether the increase could be attributed to certain occupational groups.

Methods The study was based on the Swedish Cancer Environment Register, which links the incidence of cancer from 1971 to 1990 and the 1960 and 1970 census data on codes of occupation and industry for the whole population. Standardized incidence ratios (SIR) were used to estimate the risks for men in different occupations in pulp (N=28 142) and paper (N=39 169) mills in 1960, 1970 or both years as compared with those of all gainfully employed men in Sweden.

Results Maintenance workers employed in pulp or paper mills in 1960, 1970 or both years, as well as pulp workers, showed an increased incidence of gliomas in 1971-1990 [SIR 1.5, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.1-2.1 and SIR 1.5, 95% CI 1.0-2.2, respectively], whereas the incidence among process workers in paper mills was lower than expected (SIR 0.6, 95% CI 0.3-0.9). Taken together, all employed men in the pulp mill industry had an increased incidence of gliomas (SIR 1.3, 95% CI 1.0-1.7).

Conclusions Pulp mill workers, but not paper mill workers, were found to have more gliomas in 1971-1990 than expected. There was an increased risk of gliomas among maintenance workers in both pulp and paper mills. Few risk factors for brain tumors are recognized, and the causes of the increase are not obvious.

This article refers to the following texts of the Journal: 1998;24(1):12-17  2001;27(2):113-119  1997;23(6):458-461