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Mortality from solid tumors among workers in formaldehyde industries: An update of the NCI cohort

Authors

  • Laura E. Beane Freeman PhD,

    Corresponding author
    • Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland
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  • Aaron Blair PhD, MPH,

    1. Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland
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  • Jay H. Lubin PhD,

    1. Biostatistics Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland
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  • Patricia A. Stewart PhD,

    1. Stewart Exposure Assessments, LLC, Arlington, Virginia
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  • Richard B. Hayes DDS, PhD, MPH,

    1. Division of Epidemiology, Department of Environmental Medicine, NYU Medical Center, New York, New York
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  • Robert N. Hoover MD, ScD,

    1. Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, Bethesda, Maryland
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  • Michael Hauptmann PhD

    1. Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • Disclosure Statement: A member of P. A. Stewart's family does consulting work for one of the companies that participated in the study on issues unrelated to formaldehyde exposure.

Correspondence to: L.E. Beane Freeman, Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD. E-mail: freemala@mail.nih.gov

Abstract

Background

Formaldehyde, a widely used chemical, is considered a human carcinogen.

Methods

We extended follow-up of the largest industrial cohort of workers in formaldehyde industries (n = 25,619) by 10 years through 2004. Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) and rate ratios (RRs) were calculated for deaths from solid tumors using quantitative formaldehyde exposure estimates.

Results

During 998,239 person-years, 13,951 deaths occurred. With one additional death, previously observed excesses for nasopharyngeal cancer (n = 10) persisted for peak, average intensity and cumulative exposure; RRs in the highest exposure categories were 7.66 (95% CI: 0.94, 62.34), P-trend = 0.005, 11.54 (95% CI: 1.38, 96.81), P-trend = 0.09, and 2.94 (95% CI: 0.65, 13.28), P-trend = 0.06, respectively. For all cancer, solid tumors and lung cancer, SMRs among exposed workers were elevated, but internal analyses revealed no positive associations with formaldehyde exposure.

Conclusions

Consistent with previous analyses of this cohort, this update continues to suggest a link between formaldehyde exposure and nasopharyngeal cancer. Am. J. Ind. Med. 56:1015–1026, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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