A paper has been published online in the British Journal of Cancer which examines the risks of cancer to people in their workplaces. The study concludes that five percent of all cancer deaths are linked to peoples’ occupations. That is more than 8000 every year. Those that are exposed to carcinogens such as diesel fumes or asbestos, or those that do shift work are most at risk.
The lead author of the paper, Dr. Lesley Rushton, also said that more than half the deaths were males in the construction industry. Dr. Rushton is an occupational epidemiologist at Imperial College, London and, along with co-writers, used a list of cancer-causing work-related substances which came from the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
They this and what they called a ‘risk exposure period’, which is the amount of time a worker is exposed to the contributing factors, to compile the paper. They calculated that roughly 13,600 new cases in 2004 and more than 8000 deaths in 2008 were related to the occupations of the cancer sufferers. This can be compared to over 40,000 deaths from cancer in the UK being down to smoking.
Asbestos is the biggest culprit in these work-related deaths, causing over 4000 cases of cancer in 2004. Diesel fumes and silica also played a big part. These are all materials that construction workers are exposed to. The authors of the paper believe that these estimates are still low as the figures used were from 2004 and 2008.
Now there are even more cancer cases than there were even four years ago so the figures are probably higher nowadays. Also, not all these risks are necessarily work-related because there is still asbestos in some of the older houses and air pollution is a factor also.