Occupation as a risk identifier for breast cancer

C. H. Rubin, C. A. Burnett, W. E. Halperin, P. J. Seligman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Objectives. Breast cancer mortality may be reduced if the disease is detected early through targeted screening programs. Current screening guidelines are based solely on a woman's age. Because working populations are accessible for intervention, occupational identification may be a way of helping to define and locate risk groups and target prevention. Methods. We used a database consisting of 2.9 million occupationally coded death certificates collected from 23 states between 1979 and 1987 to calculate age- adjusted, race-specific proportionate mortality ratios for breast cancer according to occupation. We performed case-control analyses on occupational groups and on stratifications within the teaching profession. Results. We found a number of significant associations between occupation and frequency of breast cancer. For example, white female professional, managerial, and clerical workers all had high proportions of breast cancer death. High rates of breast cancer in teachers were found in both proportionate mortality ratio and case-control analyses. Conclusions. These findings may serve as in an aid in the effective targeting of work-site health promotion programs. They suggest that occupationally coded mortality data can be a useful adjunct in the difficult task of identifying groups at risk of preventable disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1311-1315
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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