Colorectal cancer and occupational exposure to solar ultraviolet B radiation in Denmark


Objectives: Solar ultraviolet B radiation (UV) may reduce the risk of cancer, including colorectal cancer (CRC), although the evidence is inconclusive. To contribute with evidence, the present largescale register-based nested case-control study aimed to investigate the association between occupational UV exposure and CRC in Denmark.

Methods: The Danish Cancer Registry was used to identify a total of 12,268 men and women diagnosed with primary CRC before age 70. Five controls matched on year of birth and sex, alive and free of CRC at the time of diagnosis of the index case were randomly selected from The Danish Civil Registration System. Occupational UV exposure was assessed by obtainment of full employment history from the Danish Supplementary Pension Fund Register, which was linked to a job exposure matrix. Conditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) with corresponding 95% confidence intervals.

Results: We observed an inverse association between longer duration of UV exposure and CRC in women (≥20 years: OR = 0.84, 95% CI: 0.69-1.03), while no noteworthy associations were observed in men. When focusing on colon cancer only, longer duration of UV exposure (>20 years: OR = 0.92, 95% CI: 0.83-1.01) and higher cumulative UV exposure (highest exposure category: OR = 0.90, 95% CI: 0.83-0.99) were indicated to lower the risk in the study population including both men and women, although the risk reduction appeared to be more evident for women. No consistent risk patterns were observed for rectal cancer.

Conclusions: The present study suggests a modest protective effect from long-term occupational UV exposure on the risk of colon cancer. The effect may be greater in women and these findings need further attention in future large-scale studies.

Authors: Julie Elbaek Pedersen, Johnni Hansen
; Full Source: Environmental research 2022 Sep 6;215(Pt 1):114260. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2022.114260.