Saf Health Work.  2019 Jun;10(2):141-150. 10.1016/

Workplace Diesel Exhausts and Gasoline Exposure and Risk of Colorectal Cancer in Four Nordic Countries

  • 1Faculty of Social/Health Sciences, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland.
  • 2International Agency for Research on Cancer, Environment and Radiation Section, Lyon, France.
  • 3Tampere University Hospital, Department of Oncology, Tampere, Finland.
  • 4Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway.
  • 5Department of Research, Cancer Registry of Norway, Institute of Population-Based Cancer Research, Oslo, Norway.
  • 6Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
  • 7Genetic Epidemiology Group, Folkhälsan Research Center, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
  • 8Cancer Registry of Norway, Oslo, Norway.
  • 9Icelandic Cancer Registry, Reykjavik, Iceland.
  • 10Faculty of Medicine, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland.
  • 11The Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • 12Finnish Cancer Registry, Institute for Statistical and Epidemiological Cancer Research, Helsinki, Finland.


Evidence on associations between occupational diesel exhaust and gasoline exposure and colorectal cancer is limited. We aimed to assess the effect of workplace exposure to diesel exhaust and gasoline on the risk of colorectal cancer.
This caseecontrol study included 181,709 colon cancer and 109,227 rectal cancer cases diagnosed between 1961 and 2005 in Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Cases and controls were identified from the Nordic Occupational Cancer Study cohort and matched for country, birth year, and sex. Diesel exhaust and gasoline exposure values were assigned by country-specific job-exposure matrices. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated by using conditional logistic regression models. The results were adjusted for physical strain at work and occupational exposure to benzene, formaldehyde, ionizing radiation, chlorinated hydrocarbons, chromium, and wood dust.
Diesel exhaust exposure was associated with a small increase in the risk of rectal cancer (odds ratio 1/4 1.05, 95% confidence interval 1.02–1.08). Gasoline exposure was not associated with colorectal cancer risk.
This study showed a small risk increase for rectal cancer after workplace diesel exhaust exposure. However, this finding could be due to chance, given the limitations of the study.


Case-control study; Colorectal cancer; Diesel exhaust; Gasoline; Workplace
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