According to a recent statistical analysis, women who work as hairdressers, accountants, or in the building or apparel industries may be more likely to get ovarian cancer.
According to data, ovarian cancer will be discovered in about 20,000 women in 2023. Over the past 20 years, the incidence of this type of cancer has been gradually reducing. Additionally, the mortality rate from ovarian cancer has decreased as well, probably as a result of decreased incidence and improved treatment choices.
Ovarian cancer risk factors include advanced age, a family history of the disease, the absence of children or breastfeeding, and occasional use of oral contraceptives. Environmental exposures, such as exposure to certain chemicals and substances in the workplace, may further increase the risk of this kind of cancer.
However, few studies have looked at the exposure of female workers to potential carcinogens or whether any particular profession would render a woman more susceptible to substances that might cause ovarian cancer.
Researchers examined the lifetime occupational histories of 491 women with ovarian cancer and 897 women without the disease in a population-based study that was published on July 10 in Occupational and Environmental Medicine to find out if any jobs increased the risk of this particular illness.
The researchers also looked at the connection between cancer risks and 29 of the most prevalent substances discovered at work. The research team discovered after analyzing the data that, generally speaking, women with ovarian cancer had lower levels of education, had fewer or no children, and had taken oral contraceptives for a shorter amount of time than women without the ailment.
However, when the researchers examined employment history, they discovered that having worked as a hairdresser, barber, beautician, or in a position that was similar for ten years or more was linked to a three times higher risk of ovarian cancer. Additionally, employment in the construction industry increased risk by thrice, and ten years or more of experience as an accountant doubled risk.
Additionally, long-term employment in the apparel industry, particularly embroidery, was linked to an ovarian cancer risk that was 85% greater.
The research team also discovered that higher cancer risks were linked to longer cumulative exposure to the following substances: cosmetic talc, ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, hair dust, synthetic and polyester fibers, organic dyes and pigments, cellulose, formaldehyde, fluorocarbons, alkanes (C5-C17), mononuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from petroleum, and bleaches.
The researchers were unable to tell whether exposure to one agent or a mixture of agents was what caused the elevated cancer risk discovered in the investigation, though, because hairdressing vocations are linked to the use of numerous agents. Additionally, they were unable to identify any other factors related to the workplace.
However, they did find 12 chemicals that were typically present in these jobs and that were perhaps linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. One agent, formaldehyde, is a Group 1 carcinogen out of the total of 12. In addition, three substances — hydrogen peroxide, talc used in cosmetics, and isopropanol — are listed as “not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans.”
Professional nurses, on the other hand, may have a lower risk of ovarian cancer, according to the data. The scientists also discovered no discernible rise or fall in ovarian cancer among females working in the fields of education or healthcare.
Although the data point to certain jobs and workplace exposures as possibly increasing the risk of ovarian cancer, the study’s authors emphasize that there are only limited consequences from these findings. They claim that in order to assess the potential risks female employees may encounter in professions that are frequently held by women, further research employing cutting-edge statistical methodologies that take co-exposures into account is required.