Saf Health Work.  2018 Sep;9(3):290-295. 10.1016/

Mesothelioma in Sweden: Dose–Response Analysis for Exposure to 29 Potential Occupational Carcinogenic Agents

  • 1Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
  • 2Department of Research, Cancer Registry of Norway, Institute of Population-Based Cancer Research, Oslo, Norway.
  • 3Finnish Cancer Registry, Helsinki, Finland.
  • 4Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
  • 5Genetic Epidemiology Group, Folkhälsan Research Center, Helsinki, Finland.
  • 6Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Health Science, University of Tromsø, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway.


There is little information on the dose-response relationship between exposure to occupational carcinogenic agents and mesothelioma. This study aimed to investigate this association as well as the existence of agents other than asbestos that might cause mesothelioma.
The Swedish component of the Nordic Occupational Cancer (NOCCA) study consists of 6.78 million individuals with detailed information on occupation. Mesothelioma diagnoses recorded in 1961-2009 were identified through linkage to the Swedish Cancer Registry. We determined cumulative exposure, time of first exposure, and maximum exposure intensity by linking data on occupation to the Swedish NOCCA job-exposure matrix, which includes 29 carcinogenic agents and corresponding exposure for 283 occupations. To assess the risk of mesothelioma, we used conditional logistic regression models to estimate hazard ratiosand 95% confidence intervals.
2,757 mesothelioma cases were identified in males, including 1,416 who were exposed to asbestos. Univariate analyses showed not only a significant excess risk for maximum exposure intensity, with a hazard ratio of 4.81 at exposure levels 1.25-2.0fb/ml but also a clear dose-response effect for cumulative exposure with a 30-, 40-, and 50-year latency time. No convincing excess risk was revealed for any of the other carcinogenic agents included in the Swedish NOCCA job-exposure matrix.
When considering asbestos exposure, past exposure, even for short periods, might be enough to cause mesothelioma of the pleura later in life.


Asbestos; Dose–response; Mesothelioma; Pleura
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