New evidence of occupational cancers: fruit and veg growers, hairdressers among those at risk

Feb 04, 2008

New research by staff at the University’s Centre for Public Health Research show increased risk of cancer for occupational groups including hairdressers, sewing machinists, field crop and fruit and vegetable growers. Occupational cancers account for 330 deaths in New Zealand each year, about five per cent.

Dr Andrea ‘t Mannetje is lead author of a study on Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in New Zealand, now published online in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and second author of a study of high risk occupations for bladder cancer in New Zealand, published in the International Journal of Cancer.

The Non-Hodgkin’s findings include that workers in plant nurseries are four times more likely to develop the disease, with apple and pear growing associated with a five-fold risk. Vegetable producers and those in general horticulture production have more than a two-fold risk of developing Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is understood to account for about nine per cent of cancer cases,

Dr ‘t Mannetje says that overseas studies have indicated that dairy and beef farmers had an increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s, which is a group of cancers arising from lymphocytes, a type of while blood cell. In New Zealand this was not the case. “Farming in other countries can be very different from what is done here,” she says. “Animal farming, for example, in the Netherlands where I come from is very intensive because they don’t have a lot of space. In New Zealand the sheep and dairy farming is spread out and there are not many farmers using barns.”

The hypothesis behind farming exposure was that the risk emerged from exposure to agents from animals, including viruses. In horticulture however, the risk is from pesticides. Overseas the findings were not always replicated because, Dr ‘t Mannetje says, overseas crop farming is much larger in scale with more spraying and processing done by machine. “Vegetable and fruit products here are applied by farmers and often they have close contact with sprayed fruit and veg.”

Other occupations with increased non-Hodgkin’s risk include meat workers, possibly through exposure to animal viruses, cleaners (cleaning chemicals), heavy truck drivers (petrochemicals or agents being carted) and metal product manufacturing through exposure to trace metals and lubricants.

Occupations identified as higher risk for bladder cancer, which comprises around 12 per cent of cancers, were hairdressers and sewing machinists. In both cases the likely cause was exposure through skin to a group of known carcinogens named aromatic amines, including benzidine. Dr ‘t Mannetje says that although several of these aromatic amines have been banned for some time, chemicals structurally similar to benzidine are still used in dyes. Sewing machinists are exposed to the dyes through fabrics, she says, while hairdressers are exposed using hair dye. Aromatic amines are also found in tobacco smoke, Dr ‘t Mannetje says, and bladder cancer is also linked to smoking.

A second phase of the bladder cancer study aims to look at specific exposure, Dr ‘t Mannetje says, although it will be very difficult for hairdressers or sewing machinists to identify what they were exposed to. The second phase of the Non-Hodgkin’s study will now look at exposure to specific products, with data already collected including the study participant’s place and duration of employment, duration of work, and recollection of which products were used. Results are expected later this year.

Source: Massey University

Explore further: Chronic inflammation linked to 'high-grade' prostate cancer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

6 hours ago

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

6 hours ago

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

6 hours ago

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

19 hours ago

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

19 hours ago

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Recommended for you

Unraveling the 'black ribbon' around lung cancer

Apr 17, 2014

It's not uncommon these days to find a colored ribbon representing a disease. A pink ribbon is well known to signify breast cancer. But what color ribbon does one think of with lung cancer?

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.