To establish a network of European occupational cancer epidemiologists and to conduct three subprojects: (i) an epidemiological study on cancer risk among European pulp and paper workers; (ii) an epidemiological study on cancer risk among European asphalt workers; and (iii) an epidemiological study and a conference on occupational cancer among European women.
Although the pulp and paper industry is very important in Europe, relatively little is known of the possible cancer risk linked to employment in it. Exposure to different potentially carcinogenic agents occurs in this industry, and there is a need for studies involving large groups of workers to be able to address the problem of the exposure to specific chemicals, such as organic chlorinated compounds. An international cohort study has been started in several European countries, and will be completed under the present proposal. Employment in the asphalt mixing and paving industries entails exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a class of carcinogens; the level of exposure depending on the type of asphalt used. Although an increased risk of lung cancer has been shown in association with exposure to fumes from coal-containing asphalt, little data are available on the risk of workers exposed to coal-free asphalt, the main type of product used in many European countries. The epidemiological investigation of these workers is hampered by the low quality of information available on exposure and by the high mobility of the workforce. A feasibility study has been conducted in Europe, which has shown that a cohort study is feasible in at least seven countries. The cohort will be assembled and followed-up under the present proposal. Women have traditionally been a neglected group in occupational cancer research: only recently, attention has been drawn to the fact that in specific situations, women may suffer from substantial exposure to occupational carcinogens. Their pattern of exposure to extra-occupational carcinogens may vary from that of men, justifying additional research. Under the present proposal, routine mortality data from selected European countries will be pooled and re-analyzed, and a conference on occupational cancer in women will be organized.