Multiple myeloma among Danish women: employment history and workplace exposures

Research paper by Linda M. Pottern, Ellen F. Heineman, Jørgen H. Olsen, Edith Raffn, Aaron Blair

Indexed on: 01 Sep '92Published on: 01 Sep '92Published in: Cancer Causes & Control


To investigate the role of employment history and workplace exposures as risk factors for multiple myeloma among women, a population-based case-control study using the Danish Cancer Registry data linkage system was conducted. All cases of myeloma diagnosed in Danish women between 1970 and 1984 (1,010 cases) and 4,040 age-matched women alive at the time of case-diagnosis were identified. Industrial histories from 1964 forward were obtained from the nationwide Pension Fund for 363 cases and 1,517 controls, and the most recent occupation on the tax record was available for 607 cases and 2,596 controls. Using industry/occupational-code combinations for the cases and controls who had industry employment, Danish industrial hygienists assessed the likelihood of exposure to 47 workplace substances. An increased myeloma risk (odds ratio [OR] = 1.2, 95 percent confidence interval [CI] = 1.0–1.5) was seen for women not in the Pension Fund, but who had an occupational title coded as ‘Mrs/homemaker’. Nonsignificantly elevated risks of 1.3 or greater were observed for employment in: production of agricultural products; orchards/nurseries; spinning/weaving; other textile and plastics manufacturing; hotel, entertainment, and social services industries. Elevated, but nonsignificant risks were observed for possible and probable exposure to exhaust fumes, formaldehyde, wood dust, animals or animal products, and pesticides. The strongest association with myeloma was employment in the agricultural industry (OR = 1.5, CI = 0.8–2.8), however, the number of women who worked on family farms was unknown and could not be included in this risk estimate.