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A historical prospective study of cancer in lamp manufacturing workers in one plant was conducted. All men and women who worked for a total of at least 6 months and were employed at some time between 1960 and 1975 were included. Work histories were abstracted and subjects were divided according to whether they had worked in the coiling and wire drawing area (CWD). Cancer morbidity from 1964 to 1982 was ascertained via the provincial registry, and was compared with the site-specific incidence in Ontario, adjusting for age, sex and calendar period. Of particular interest were primary breast and gynecological cancers in women.
The cancers of a priori concern were significantly increased in women in CWD, but not elsewhere in the plant. The excess was greatest in those with more than 5 yr exposure (in CWD) and more than 15 yr since first working in CWD, with eight cases of breast and gynecological cancers observed in this category compared with 2.67 expected. Only three cancers occurred in men in CWD.
Environmental measurements had not been made in the past and little information was available on substances used in the 1940s and 1950s, the period when the women with the highest excess began employment. It is known that methylene chloride and trichlorethylene have been used, but not enough is known about the dates and patterns of use to draw any conclusions about their relationship with the increase in disease.