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Br J Cancer. 1997;76(12):1539-45.

High-contact paternal occupations, infection and childhood leukaemia: five studies of unusual population-mixing of adults.

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Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Oxford, The Radcliffe Infirmary, UK.


The hypothesis has been tested that, among excesses of childhood leukaemia associated with extreme population-mixing, the incidence is higher for the children of men in occupations involving contact with many individuals (particularly children), as noted in certain childhood infections. Data on childhood leukaemia were examined from five previous studies of the author in which significant excesses had been found associated with population-mixing involving adults. Occupational titles were categorized according to the estimated level of work contacts as medium, high, very high or indeterminate. Occupations involving frequent contact with children were categorized as having a very high contact level given the high frequency of exposure to the infection postulated as underlying childhood leukaemia. There was a significant positive trend (P < 0.001) in childhood leukaemia risk at ages 0-14 years across the occupational contact categories from the reference group (comprising the medium and low plus indeterminate categories) through high to very high (i.e. high-child) contact categories in the combined data from the author's five studies of adult population-mixing; this significant trend also applied at ages 0-4 (P < 0.001) and 5-14 (P < 0.01) years. The excess in the high category was mainly because of paternal occupations connected with the construction industry and transport, suggesting a broader definition of the 'very high' contact category. No sign of these excesses was found in a limited examination of the question outside areas of population-mixing using mortality data for childhood leukaemia in the general population of England and Wales. The findings represent the first individual-based support for infection underlying childhood leukaemia that is promoted by population-mixing, as well as further support for the role of adults in transmission of the infection.

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