Occupation and Breast Cancer: a Canadian Case-Control Study

J.T. Brophy, M.M. Keith, K.M. Gorey, I. Luginaah, E. Laukkanen, D. Hellyer, A. Reinhartz, A. Watterson, H. Abu-Zahra, E. Maticka-Tyndale, K. Schneider, Matthias Beck, M. Gilbertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


A local collaborative process was launched in Windsor, Ontario, Canada to explore the role of occupation as a risk factor for cancer. An initial hypothesis-generating study found an increased risk for breast cancer among women aged 55 years or younger who had ever worked in farming. On the basis of this result, a 2-year case–control study was undertaken to evaluate the lifetime occupational histories of women with breast cancer. The results indicate that women with breast cancer were nearly three times more likely to have worked in agriculture when compared to the controls (OR = 2.80 [95% CI, 1.6–4.8]). The risk for those who worked in agriculture and subsequently worked in automotive-related manufacturing was further elevated (OR = 4.0 [95% CI, 1.7–9.9]). The risk for those employed in agriculture and subsequently employed in health care was also elevated (OR = 2.3 [95% CI, 1.1–4.6]). Farming tended to be among the earlier jobs worked, often during adolescence. While this article has limitations including the small sample size and the lack of information regarding specific exposures, it does provide evidence of a possible association between farming and breast cancer. The findings indicate the need for further study to determine which aspects of farming may be of biological importance and to better understand the significance of timing of exposure in terms of cancer risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-777
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2006

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