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Environ Health Perspect. 1999 May;107 Suppl 2:259-71.

Occupational cancer in Italy.

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Epidemiology Unit, Center for Study and Prevention of Cancer, Florence, Italy.


This article is a discussion of occupational cancer in Italy. The introduction provides the necessary context of Italian industrialization and occupational health regulation. This is followed by a review of Italian epidemiologic studies of occupational cancer risks considered in terms of relative measures of risk and attributable risk of carcinogenic agents or exposure circumstances. We attempt to establish the number of workers exposed to carcinogens in Italy and the intensity of their exposures. Finally, the Italian system of compensation for occupational cancer is discussed. Several cohort and case-control studies have addressed the issue of occupational risks, mostly among male workers. The results of these studies suggest that the growing incidence of and mortality by mesothelioma is explained by the widespread and intense exposure to asbestos in some Italian industrial settings. A high attributable risk of lung tumors among male populations in industrial areas of northern Italy is explained by occupational exposures. However, insufficient data are available for clear definition of the extent and intensity of occupational exposure to carcinogenic substances. In Italy, we must prioritize and maximize resources in occupational cancer epidemiology and revitalize the role of national institutions. Recent legislation has established new regulations on the handling of carcinogenic substances in industrial settings, a new list of occupational diseases, and a national registry of mesothelioma linked to asbestos exposure. These legislative changes are expected to have positive effects.

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