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Keywords:

  • glioma;
  • occupation;
  • case control study;
  • risk factors;
  • epidemiology;
  • low grade glioma;
  • high grade glioma

Abstract

The majority of suspected occupational risk factors for adult brain tumours have yet to be confirmed as etiologically relevant. Within an international case-control study on brain tumours, lifelong occupational histories and information on exposures to specific substances were obtained by direct interviews to further investigate occupational risk factors for glioma. This is one of the largest studies of brain tumours in adults, including 1,178 cases and 1987 population controls from 8 collaborating study centres matched for age, gender and centre. All occupational information, was aggregated into 16 occupational categories. In a pooled analysis, odds ratios (OR), adjusted for education, were estimated separately for men and women and for high-grade glioma (HGG) and low-grade glioma (LGG), focusing especially on 6 categories defined a priori: agricultural, chemical, construction, metal, electrical/electronic and transport. For men, an elevated OR of glioma associated with the category “metal” (OR = 1.24, 95% CI 0.96–1.62) was seen, which appeared to be largely accounted for by LGG (OR = 1.59, 95% CI 1.00–2.52). For the other 5 occupational categories, no elevated risks for glioma were observed. For women the only noteworthy observation for the 6 a priori categories was an inverse association with the “agriculture” category (OR = 0.60, 95% CI 0.36–0.99). Apart from the 6 major categories, women working in food production or food processing (category “food”) showed an increased OR of 1.95 (95% CI 1.04–3.68). None of the 20 substance groups was positively associated with glioma risk. Although some other point estimates were elevated, they lacked statistical significance. The results do not provide evidence of a strong association between occupational exposures and glioma development.