Occupation and Bladder Cancer: A Population-Based, Case-Control Study in Iowa

Compelling empirical data points to a correlation between bladder cancer and certain occupations, including housekeepers and butlers. A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in July 2002 measured the incidence of bladder cancer for study participants in 32 different industries and occupations as compared to a control group of the general population not employed in any of the occupations studied. The study further isolated the data by how long each participant was employed in that industry or occupation.


Housekeepers and butlers were found to have an increased risk of bladder cancer as compared to the general population, 3:2 for those subjects who had been employed in this occupation for 10 years or more. The elevated risk was thought by the study authors to be attributed to exposure to solvents, which are often found in household cleaners, particularly all-purpose cleaners, de-greasers, and furniture polishes. Other occupations with increased risk include those with high exposures to metals, rubber, plastics and solvents such as tire workers, mechanics, painters, printers, plumbers and dry cleaners.


While consumers in general tend to have much lower exposure levels to the health risks many cleaning products introduce as compared to those employed as housekeepers and butlers, the study points to an important consideration for those purchasing and using household cleaners. Green cleaning products are more and more common on the market and quickly becoming an accessible alternative to the risks traditional cleaners pose. It is important to check the chemical ingredients of any cleaning product before using, since green products marketed for their environmental friendliness may in fact contain chemicals that may endanger health.

Those interested in researching the chemical ingredients found in their cleaners can visit http://scorecard.org/chemical-profiles to find out whether health risks are associated to those chemicals.

SOURCE:  Zheng, Tongzhang, ScD, Kenneth P. Cantor, PhD, et al., “Occupation and Bladder Cancer: A Population-Based, Case-Control Study in Iowa”, Journal of Occupational Medicine, Volume 44, Number 7, July 2002, p 685 – 691.

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