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Keywords:

  • risk estimates;
  • temporal changes;
  • benzene;
  • leukemia;
  • follow-up time;
  • rubber workers;
  • risk analysis

Abstract

Background

Choice of follow-up time for an occupational cohort can influence risk estimates. We examined the effects of follow-up time on relative risk estimates for leukemia and multiple myeloma in a cohort of 1,845 rubber hydrochloride workers.

Materials and Methods

We generated standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) for yearly follow-ups, beginning each study in 1940 and increasing study end dates from 1950 through 1996. We used Cox proportional hazards modeling to explore the effects of follow-up time on the exposure–response relationship.

Results

The SMR for leukemia rose to 13.55 in 1961 and fell nearly monotonically to 2.47 by 1996. Cox modeling suggested interaction between cumulative exposure and time since exposure. A longer time to peak risk was seen for multiple myeloma.

Conclusions

Because summary risk estimates change with follow-up time, exposure limits set using these estimates may not adequately protect workers. Consideration of appropriate follow-up time and use of more complex temporal models are critical to the risk assessment process. Am. J. Ind. Med. 42:481–489, 2002. Published 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.