Cancer Incidence Among Union Carpenters in New Jersey

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Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Summary Statement

An abstract of a study of cancer in carpenters discussing an increased incidence of cancer of the peritoneum, digestive system, and respiratory system.

From the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (Dr Dement, Dr Pompeii), Division of Psychiatry (Dr Lipkus), and Department of Biostatistics and Informatics (Dr Samsa), Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.

Address correspondence to: John M. Dement, PhD, CIH, Associate Professor, Division of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Department of Community & Family Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Box 3834, Durham, NC 27710; E-mail address:

Grant Sponsor: National Cancer Institute grants CA63782 and CA72099.


A cohort of 13,354 male union carpenters in New Jersey was linked to cancer registry data to investigate cancer incidence during 1979 through 2000. Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results data were used to calculate standardized incidence ratios (SIRs). A total of 592 incident cancers were observed among this cohort (SIR = 1.07), which was not statistically in excess. However, significant excesses were observed for cancers of the digestive system and peritoneum (SIR = 1.24) and the respiratory system (SIR = 1.52). Workers in the union more than 30 years were at significant risk for cancers of the digestive organs and peritoneum (SIR = 3.98), rectum (SIR = 4.85), trachea, bronchus, and lung (SIR = 4.56), and other parts of the respiratory system (SIR = 11.00). Testicular cancer was significantly in excess (SIR = 2.48) in analyses that lagged results 15 years from initial union membership. Additional etiologic research is needed to evaluate possible occupational and nonoccupational risk factors for testicular cancer.