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Estimating Cancer Causes: Problems In Methodology, Production, And Trends.

Davis-DL; Bridbord-K; Schneiderman-M
Quantification of Occupational Cancer, Banbury Report No. 9, Peto 1981:285-316
The difficulties in allocating the proportion of human cancers attributable to specific causes are discussed. Previous efforts to make estimates on the basis of epidemiological studies are reviewed, with particular attention to a 1978 joint Federal agency paper submitted for Occupational Safety and Health Administration hearings on identifying and regulating carcinogens. Despite the shortcomings of the paper, it is believed to have utilized a sound method for estimating the contribution of occupational exposure to the cancer rate. Trends in production, consumption, and use of material known or suspected to be carcinogens are addressed, and the possible contributions of cigarette smoking and industrial exposures are considered. Studies of cancer incidence and mortality in the United States since the 1970s have revealed a decline in cancer in people under age 45 and an increase in cancer in people over 45. The increases are only partially accounted for by changes in rates for cancer attributed to cigarettes. It is recommended that the possible causes for these trends be researched. Given the greater exposure of the older half of the population, more detailed trend analysis of this age groups is needed, with special reference to those over age 65. There has been a marked increase since the 1960s in production of International Agency for Research on Cancer class one and class two carcinogens, as well as substances suspected of causing cancer and other diseases. The effects of these production increases are not likely to be fully expressed before the end of the century. Caution is advised, with consideration given to toxicological studies as a basis for regulatory control. To wait for unequivocal human epidemiological evidence would endanger lives needlessly. The authors note that despite the difficulties in estimating the proportion of cancers associated with environmental factors, there is no doubt that industrial exposure remains a serious public health problem that requires preventive policies.
Mortality-data; Carcinogenesis; Occupational-dermatitis; Workplace-studies; Work-environment; Analytical-models; Exposure-limits; Environmental-control;
Publication Date
Peto-R; Schneiderman-M;
Fiscal Year
Source Name
Quantification of Occupational Cancer, Banbury Report No. 9, Peto
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division