Breast cancer incidence in a national cohort of female workers exposed to special health hazards in Taiwan: a retrospective case-cohort study of ~ 300,000 occupational records spanning 20 years


Objective: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide. In Taiwan, workers exposed to any of 31 hazardous chemicals or carcinogens in the work environment are designated as especially exposed workers (EEWs) by Taiwan’s Ministry of Labor. We assessed the risk of breast cancer in this nationwide female EEW cohort. Methods: We conducted a nationwide retrospective study of 4,774,295 workers combining data collected from Taiwan’s Ministry of Labor’s EEW database between 1997 and 2018 and Taiwan’s Cancer Registry between 1997 and 2016. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) for women exposed to different hazards and breast cancer incidence rate ratios (IRRs) were calculated by Poisson regression, adjusting for age and duration of exposure. Results: 3248 female workers with breast cancer and 331,967 without breast cancer were included. The SIRs and adjusted IRRs were 1.27 (95% CI 1.18-1.35) and 1.31 (95% CI 1.21-1.42) for lead, 1.74 (95% CI 1.23-2.24) and 1.52 (95% CI 1.13-2.04) for 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane, 1.47 (95% CI 1.12-1.82) and 1.42 (95% CI 1.12-1.81) for trichloroethylene/tetrachloroethylene), 1.40 (95% CI 1.23-1.57) and 1.38 (95% CI 1.22-1.57) for benzene, and 2.07 (95% CI 1.06-3.09) and 1.80 (95% CI 1.10-2.94) for asbestos. The results remained similar when factoring in a 2- or 5-year latency period. Conclusion: This study found possible correlations between occupational exposure to lead, chlorinated solvents (such as 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane, trichloroethylene, and tetrachloroethylene), benzene, and asbestos with breast cancer risk among female EEW, suggesting a need for regular screening for breast cancer for employees exposed to these special workplace hazards.

Authors: Yun-Shiuan Chuang, Chun-Ying Lee, Pei-Chen Lin, Chih-Hong Pan, Hui-Min Hsieh, Chia-Fang Wu, Ming-Tsang Wu
; Full Source: International archives of occupational and environmental health 2022 Jun 30. doi: 10.1007/s00420-022-01897-x.