Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in US women, accounting for 72,130 deaths in 2006. In addition to smoking cessation, further reduction of the burden of lung cancer mortality can be made by preventing exposure to occupational lung carcinogens. Data for occupational exposures and health outcomes of US working women are limited.
Population-based mortality data for 4,570,711 women who died between 1984 and 1998 in 27 US States were used to evaluate lung cancer proportionate mortality over time by the usual occupation and industry reported on death certificates. Lung cancer proportionate mortality ratios were adjusted for smoking, using data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention Study II.
Analyses revealed that 194,382 white, 18,225 Black and 1,515 Hispanic women died 1984–1998 with lung cancer reported as the underlying cause of death. Following adjustment for smoking, significant excess proportionate lung cancer mortality was observed among US women working in the US manufacturing; transportation; retail trade; agriculture, forestry, and fishing; and nursing/personal care industries. Women employed in precision production, technical, managerial, professional specialty, and administrative occupations experienced some of the highest significantly excess proportionate lung cancer mortality during 1984–1998.
The results of our study point to significantly elevated risks for lung cancer after adjustment for smoking among women in several occupations and industries. Because 6–17% of lung cancer in US males is attributable to known exposures to occupational carcinogens, and since synergistic interactions between cigarette smoke and other occupational lung carcinogens have been noted, it is important to continue research into the effects of occupational exposures on working men and women. Am. J. Ind. Med. 54:102–117, 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.