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Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2012 Oct;5(10):1213-22. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-12-0070. Epub 2012 Sep 7.

Intervening to reduce the future burden of occupational cancer in britain: what could work?

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Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Imperial College London, St Mary's Campus, Norfolk Place, London, UK.


In Britain, 14 carcinogenic agents and occupational circumstances currently account for 86% of estimated occupation attributable cancer. The future burden associated with these carcinogens has been forecast, using attributable fractions for forecast scenarios representing patterns of past and predicted future exposure, and exposure levels representing the introduction of new occupational exposure limits, increased levels of compliance with these limits and other reductions in worker exposure. Without intervention, occupational attributable cancers are forecast to remain at more than 10,000 by 2060. With modest intervention over 2,600, or with stricter interventions more than 8,200 cancers could be avoided by 2060 although because of long latency no impact will be seen until at least 10 years after intervention. Effective interventions assessed in this study include reducing workplace exposure limits and improving compliance with these limits. Cancers associated with asbestos, diesel engine exhaust, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, work as a painter, radon, and solar radiation are forecast to continue, with construction remaining the prime industry of concern. Although exposure levels to the established carcinogens are falling, workers are remaining exposed at low levels at which there is still a cancer risk, although the aging population also contributes to rising cancer numbers, These forecasts can be used to assess the relative costs to society of different occupational carcinogenic agents, and the relative merits and savings associated with alternative intervention strategies. The methods are adaptable for different data circumstances, other types of interventions and could be extended to environmental carcinogens and other chronic diseases.

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