Asbestos-related cancers among 28,300 military servicemen in the Royal Norwegian Navy




This study focus on the incidence of asbestos-related cancers among 28,300 officers and enlisted servicemen in the Royal Norwegian Navy. Until 1987, asbestos aboard the vessels potentially caused exposure to 11,500 crew members.


Standardized incidence ratios (SIR) were calculated for malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, and laryngeal, pharyngeal, stomach, and colorectal cancers according to service aboard between 1950 and 1987 and in other Navy personnel.


Increased risk of mesothelioma was seen among engine room crews, with SIRs of 6.23 (95% CI = 2.51–12.8) and 6.49 (95% CI = 2.11–15.1) for personnel who served less than 2 years and those with longer service, respectively. Lung cancer was nearly 20% higher than expected among both engine crews and non-engine crews. An excess of colorectal cancer bordering on statistical significance was seen among non-engine crews (SIR = 1.14; 95% CI = 0.98–1.32). Land-based personnel and personnel who served aboard after 1987 had lower lung cancer incidence than expected (SIR = 0.77; 95% CI = 0.64–0.92). No elevated risk of laryngeal, pharyngeal, or stomach cancers was seen.


The overall increase (65%) in mesotheliomas among military Navy servicemen was confined to marine engine crews only. The mesothelioma incidence can be taken as an indicator of the presence or absence of asbestos exposure, but it offered no consistent explanation to the variation in incidence of other asbestos-related cancers. Am. J. Ind. Med. 53:64–71, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.