Cohort Study Finds Elevated Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Risk Among Electronics Workers, According to the Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Center

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NIH researchers say risks from occupational exposures such as PCBs cannot be ruled out.

Electronics Workers and NHL

Electronics Workers and NHL

Occupational exposures cannot be ruled out...

Researchers with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati find that men who work with microelectronics and business machines may be more likely to die of cancer, including Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

A new study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine and reported by the Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Center focused on 34,494 workers employed at a microelectronics and business machine facility between 1969 and 2001.

Analysis of data on the workers found that just over 17% (5,966) had died through 2009. Among the male hourly workers, the team reports that Standard Mortality Ratios (SMRs) were “significantly elevated for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and rectal cancer”. Salaried males had a higher incidence of testicular cancer.

Although the study also found an elevated incidence of pleural cancers and mesothelioma among workers hired before 1969, they did not find evidence that the plant had ever used asbestos, the top cause of mesothelioma.

The cause of elevated Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma among the electronics workers is also difficult to explain since the possible environmental triggers for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma are not fully understood. Some studies suggest that the risk of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma increases with exposure to certain chemicals including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which were once widely used in transformers, capacitors and electric motors.

The authors of the new study concede that “few significant exposure-outcome relations were observed” among the electronics workers but caution that “occupational exposures cannot be ruled out due to limitations and the relative youth of the cohort”. The production of PCBs was banned in the US in 1979 because of their environmental toxicity. The original study appears in a recent issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. (Silver, SR, et al, “Retrospective cohort study of a microelectronics and business machine facility”, April 2014, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, p. 412-424,

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. It encompasses a large group of lymphomas all of which may be treated slightly differently. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was diagnosed in about 70,000 people in the U.S. in 2013. More than 500,000 Americans are currently living with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

The Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Center is part of the Cancer Monthly organization. The Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Center has been established by Cancer Monthly to provide more comprehensive information on the causes, diagnosis, and treatments for the many different subtypes of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. For over ten years, Cancer Monthly has been the only centralized source of cancer treatment results. Patients can see the actual survival rate, quality-of-life indicators, and other key data for approximately 1,500 different cancer treatments. Cancer Monthly provides timely and ground-breaking news on the causes, diagnoses and treatments of the most common cancers including Bladder, Brain, Breast, Colon, Kidney (Renal), Liver, Lung (NSCLC), Ovarian, Prostate, and Rectal Cancers, Melanoma, Mesothelioma, and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Written for patients and their loved ones, Cancer Monthly helps families make more informed treatment decisions.

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Cancer Monthy
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