Work stress and risk of cancer: meta-analysis of 5700 incident cancer events in 116 000 European men and women

Katriina Heikkilä, Solja T Nyberg, Töres Theorell, Eleonor I Fransson, Lars Alfredsson, Jakob B Bjorner, Sébastien Bonenfant, Marianne Borritz, Kim Bouillon, Herman Burr, Nico Dragano, Goedele A Geuskens, Marcel Goldberg, Mark Hamer, Wendela E Hooftman, Irene L Houtman, Matti Joensuu, Anders Knutsson, Markku Koskenvuo, Aki KoskinenAnne Kouvonen, Ida E H Madsen, Linda L Magnusson Hanson, Michael G Marmot, Martin L Nielsen, Maria Nordin, Tuula Oksanen, Jaana Pentti, Paula Salo, Reiner Rugulies, Andrew Steptoe, Sakari Suominen, Jussi Vahtera, Marianna Virtanen, Ari Väänänen, Peter Westerholm, Hugo Westerlund, Marie Zins, Jane E Ferrie, Archana Singh-Manoux, G David Batty, Mika Kivimäki, IPD-Work Consortium

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    Abstract

    Objective
    To investigate whether work related stress, measured and defined as job strain, is associated with the overall risk of cancer and the risk of colorectal, lung, breast, or prostate cancers.

    Design
    Meta-analysis of pooled prospective individual participant data from 12 European cohort studies including 116 056 men and women aged 17-70 who were free from cancer at study baseline and were followed-up for a median of 12 years. Work stress was measured and defined as job strain, which was self reported at baseline. Incident cancers (all n=5765, colorectal cancer n=522, lung cancer n=374, breast cancer n=1010, prostate cancer n=865) were ascertained from cancer, hospital admission, and death registers. Data were analysed in each study with Cox regression and the study specific estimates pooled in meta-analyses. Models were adjusted for age, sex, socioeconomic position, body mass index (BMI), smoking, and alcohol intake

    Results
    A harmonised measure of work stress, high job strain, was not associated with overall risk of cancer (hazard ratio 0.97, 95% confidence interval 0.90 to 1.04) in the multivariable adjusted analyses. Similarly, no association was observed between job strain and the risk of colorectal (1.16, 0.90 to 1.48), lung (1.17, 0.88 to 1.54), breast (0.97, 0.82 to 1.14), or prostate (0.86, 0.68 to 1.09) cancers. There was no clear evidence for an association between the categories of job strain and the risk of cancer.

    Conclusions
    These findings suggest that work related stress, measured and defined as job strain, at baseline is unlikely to be an important risk factor for colorectal, lung, breast, or prostate cancers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberf165
    Pages (from-to)1-10
    JournalBMJ (Clinical Research Edition)
    Volume346
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2013

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Medicine(all)

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