Work-related cancer 'twice as likely' as estimated, says HSE

British men are more than twice as likely to die from work-related cancer as previously thought, a UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) study suggests.

Of cancer registration in men, 56% were in construction (Photograph: SPL)
Of cancer registration in men, 56% were in construction (Photograph: SPL)

Previous estimates of occ-upational cancer mortality in Britain have been largely based on historical US data. These suggested that around 4 per cent of cancer deaths might be attributable to occupation.

The HSE has produced an updated assessment in Britain and a forecast of future cases.

It estimates that in 2005, around 5.3 per cent of deaths resulted from occupational exposure to risk factors.

The risk varied more than three-fold across the sexes. In men, around 8.2 per cent of cancers were related to occupation, compared with 2.3 per cent in women.

However, the HSE researchers believe the new assessments may be conservative estimates of the cancer attributable to occupational factors.

Of cancer registrations in men, 56 per cent were attributable to work in the construction industry. These were mainly mesotheliomas, lung and bladder cancers and non-melanoma skin cancers.

In women, 54 per cent of cancers related to occupation were a result of shift work.

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