To examine the cancer risks associated with firefighting in Florida, a retrospective cohort study was conducted among 35,777 males (493,532 person years) and 2,165 females (19,273 person years) certified between 1972 to 1999 in Florida to work as full time firefighters. Age- and gender-specific cancer incidence rates in the general Florida population were used as comparisons in calculating the standardized incidence ratios (SIR). A total of 1,032 cases of cancer among Florida firefighters (970 male and 52 female) were identified by linkage with the Florida Cancer Data System as of 12/31/1999. The overall risk of cancer among male firefighters was significantly lower relative than that of the general Florida population (age adjusted SIR = 0.84; 95% CI = 0.79, 0.90) as well as for cancers of buccal (0.67; 0.47, 0.91), stomach (0.50; 0.2, -0.90), lung (0.65; 0.54, 0.78), and brain (0.58; 0.31, 0.97). Significantly increased cancer incidence was observed among male firefighters for bladder (1.29; 1.01, 1.62), testes (1.60; 1.20,2.09), and thyroid cancers (1.77; 1.08, 2.73). Female firefighters had significantly increased overall (1.63; 1.22,2.14) and thyroid cancers (3.97; 1.45,8.65) as well as Hodgkins disease (6.25; 1.26, 18.26). This study did not find evidence for an excess risk of lung or brain cancer in firefighters as documented in prior mortality studies. However, this study does suggest that a significantly increased risk of bladder cancer among male firefighters might be related to occupational exposure, rather than to usage of tobacco.
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Miami School of Medicine, 1801NW 9th Ave., Ste. 200, Miami, FL 33136