Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1994;20(1):22-26    pdf


Cancer morbidity among Danish female pharmacy technicians.

by Hansen J, Olsen JH

OBJECTIVES Pharmacy technicians maintain a substantial production and packing of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, many of which are carcinogens. This study reports on cancer incidence among Danish female pharmacy assistants and dispensers.

METHODS Altogether, 8499 compulsory members were identified in the archives of the Association of Danish Pharmacy Technicians and followed through the files of the Danish Cancer Registry (1970-1990); observed figures were compared with those expected on the basis of national cancer incidence rates.

RESULTS The overall standardized incidence ratio [SIR] for cancer was 1.0 [N = 219, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.8-1.1]. A 1.5-fold (N = 34; 95% CI 1.1-2.1) elevated risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer was found, especially for long-term pharmacy assistants (N = 15, SIR 2.8, 95% CI 1.6-4.6). An increased risk for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma appeared among long-term pharmacy dispensers (N = 5, SIR 3.7, 95% CI 1.2-8.9). In the entire group, the risk of tobacco-related tumors was significantly reduced (N = 8, SIRW 0.4, 95% CI 0.2-0.9), together with the probably socioeconomic-associated cervical cancer risk (N = 18, SIR 0.6, 95% CI 0.4-0.9).

CONCLUSIONS Sunlight is usually the dominant cause of nonmelanoma and melanoma skin cancer, but occupational factors may have contributed in this study in view of the uncommon localization observed for many of these cancers and the unelevated melanoma risk. In addition to the increased risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, which may have been associated with exposure to organic solvents, the results do not indicate any other notable cancer risks during the follow-up.