Occupational risk variation of nasopharyngeal cancer in the Nordic countries

Timo Carpén*, Evelina Gille, Lalle Hammarstedt-Nordenvall, Johnni Hansen, Sanna Heikkinen, Elsebeth Lynge, Jenny Selander, Ingrid Sivesind Mehlum, Jóhanna Eyrún Torfadottir, Antti Mäkitie*, Eero Pukkala

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The aim of this study was to estimate occupational risk variation in the incidence of nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) in a large population-based cohort of the Nordic Occupational Cancer (NOCCA) study. Methods: This study is based on a cohort of almost 15 million persons from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, with 2898 nasopharyngeal cancer cases diagnosed in 1961–2005. The data on occupations were gathered from population censuses and cancer data from the national cancer registries. Standardized incidence ratios (SIR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using the national NPC incidence rates as the reference. Results: There were 1980 male and 918 female NPC patients. The highest SIRs of NPC were observed among male waiters (SIR 3.69, 95% CI 1.91–6.45) and cooks and stewards (SIR 2.24, 95% CI 1.16–3.91). Among women, launderers had the highest SIR of NPC (2.04, 95% CI 1.02–3.65). Significantly decreased SIRs were found among male farmers (SIR 0.79, 95% CI 0.68–0.92) and male textile workers (SIR 0.49, 95% CI 0.22–0.93). Conclusions: This study suggests that NPC may be associated with several work-related exposure agents such as smoking, kitchen air pollution and solvents. In future, occupational exposure-risk relations should be studied to understand more about causality and to assess effective prevention strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1130
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

Other keywords

  • Cohort
  • Incidence
  • Nasopharyngeal cancer
  • Occupation
  • Risk factor


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