Malignant lymphomas and occupational risk in woodworkers

G. Franco, R. Fonte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Occupational exposure to chemicals may constitute an important risk factor in the etiology of tumors. The hypothesized link between an increased death rate from Hodgkin's disease (HD) and the occupational handling of chemicals was therefore stressed. This case-referent study was based upon an analysis of the charts of 387 cases of HD and 282 cases of non-Hodgkin lymphomas (nHL), as well as the charts from 1,345 patients admitted to an internal medicine unit as referents, in order to evaluate the etiologic role of occupational exposure to chemicals in malignant lymphomas (ML). Occupations were recorded and grouped; housewives and students were excluded from the analysis. The analysis was performed by sex and age stratification according to Mantel-Haenszel procedure. A highly significant increase in relative risk (RR) was noted for subjects of a higher socioeconomic status, such as teachers; workers in the chemical, pharmaceutical, plastic and rubber industries did not seem to be at increased risk for ML. Among woodworkers a significantly increased RR was observed (RR = 5.55, p <0.001, confidence intervals: 2.39-12.85). Although the association between the increased incidence of lymphomas and occupation has been suggested among woodworkers of lumber and sawmill industries, no data supporting the existence of this association has been found in the carpentry and joinery and in furniture-making industries, thus the available epidemiologic data provide no definitive link between exposure and response. Several substances that are regularly employed in the wood industry may be suspected as etiologic factors in malignant lymphomas. At least 3 groups of these substances (benzene, chlorophenols and phenoxyacids, coal tar derivatives) may be involved as causative factors in ML. However, the existence of other unknown factors may not be excluded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-217
Number of pages2
JournalIRCS Medical Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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