Risk Of Pancreatic Cancer Increases With Each Year Of Exposure To Chemicals At The Workplace

Risk Of Pancreatic Cancer Increases With Each Year Of Exposure To Chemicals At The Workplace

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A new analysis suggests that professions that entail recurrent contact with chemicals could progressively heighten the chance of pancreatic cancer. The study says people exposed to certain chemicals for over two decades had a 39% increased probability of having pancreatic cancer, compared to an 11% and 4% rise for those exposed for about 11 to 20 years and 1 to 10 years respectively. 

Our findings revealed that the risk of pancreatic cancer increases significantly for each additional year of exposure among workers exposed to these chemicals,” said study author Ro-Ting Lin, She stated that the research study analyzed 12 different industrial chemicals and concluded that five of them substantially increased the risk of pancreatic cancer among workers. 

Lin added, “The No. 1 chemical that most increased a person’s risk of pancreatic cancer was ethylene oxide, followed by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, rubber dust and fumes, styrene, and metalworking fluids.” According to the researchers, these chemicals find their primary usage in the chemical, metal, plastic, rubber, and petroleum industries. 

The study is an addition to the mounting evidence that associates workplace exposure to specific chemicals with an increased risk of cancer, as noted by Dr. Steven Nimmo, of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine in the United Kingdom. “What this new meta-analysis adds is a definite dose-response relationship. The longer people are exposed, the more likely they are to develop pancreatic cancer.” 

Nimmo, who edited the journal in which the study was published on April 27, Occupational Medicine, added. “It’s another piece in the jigsaw puzzle. That the risk increases with time of exposure is a quite important bit that adds toward whether there is direct causation.” The researcher stressed that pancreatic cancer is among the top 5 causes of cancer death globally. 

Lin and her colleagues further noted that certain chemicals, including ethylene oxide, styrene, and metalworking fluids, significantly increased the risk of pancreatic cancer, even with a brief exposure of fewer than ten years. However, longer exposure to higher concentrations of these harmful chemicals more than doubled a worker’s risk.

Lin emphasized that most of the chemical agents targeted in the study entered the body by inhalation, urging, “We recommend reducing exposure by shortening the working duration in the risky operation, enclosing chemical operations, improving ventilation, and ensuring effective personal protective equipment is worn, but ultimately high-risk chemical processes should still be phased out.” 

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