BJC Open article

British Journal of Cancer (2009) 100, 1175–1183. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6604879 www.bjcancer.com
Published online 3 March 2009

Occupational, domestic and environmental mesothelioma risks in the British population: a case–control study

C Rake1, C Gilham1, J Hatch1, A Darnton2, J Hodgson2 and J Peto1,3

  1. 1Institute of Cancer Research, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5NG, UK
  2. 2Epidemiology Unit, Health and Safety Executive, Bootle, Merseyside L20 3QZ, UK
  3. 3Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London University, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK

Correspondence: Professor J Peto, E-mail: Julian.Peto@lshtm.ac.uk

Received 30 September 2008; Revised 15 December 2008; Accepted 15 December 2008
Advance online publication 3 March 2009



We obtained lifetime occupational and residential histories by telephone interview with 622 mesothelioma patients (512 men, 110 women) and 1420 population controls. Odds ratios (ORs) were converted to lifetime risk (LR) estimates for Britons born in the 1940s. Male ORs (95% confidence interval (CI)) relative to low-risk occupations for >10 years of exposure before the age of 30 years were 50.0 (25.8–96.8) for carpenters (LR 1 in 17), 17.1 (10.3–28.3) for plumbers, electricians and painters, 7.0 (3.2–15.2) for other construction workers, 15.3 (9.0–26.2) for other recognised high-risk occupations and 5.2 (3.1–8.5) in other industries where asbestos may be encountered. The LR was similar in apparently unexposed men and women (~1 in 1000), and this was approximately doubled in exposed workers’ relatives (OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.3–3.2). No other environmental hazards were identified. In all, 14% of male and 62% of female cases were not attributable to occupational or domestic asbestos exposure. Approximately half of the male cases were construction workers, and only four had worked for more than 5 years in asbestos product manufacture.


mesothelioma; case–control; amosite



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