Cancer incidence in UK electricity generation and transmission workers, 1973-2015

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Background: Long-term health outcomes in cohorts of workers from the electricity supply industry have been studied.

Aims: To examine updated cancer incidence findings among a cohort of UK electricity generation and transmission workers.

Methods: Cancer morbidity experienced by 81,616 employees of the former Central Electricity Generating Board of England and Wales was investigated for the period 1973-2015. All employees had worked for at least six months with some employment between 1973 and 1982. Standardised registration ratios (SRRs) were calculated on the basis of national rates.

Results: Overall cancer morbidity was slightly below expectation in males. Significant excesses were found in male workers for mesothelioma (Observed [Obs] 763, SRR 326), skin cancer (non-melanoma) (Obs 5616, SRR 106), and prostate cancer (Obs 4298, SRR 106), and in female workers for cancer of the small intestine (Obs 13, SRR 220), nasal cancer (Obs 11, SRR 407), and breast cancer (Obs 758, SRR 110). More detailed analyses showed important contrasts, particularly for mesothelioma, lung cancer, skin cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer.

Conclusions: A clear occupational excess of mesothelioma was not matched by a corresponding excess of asbestos-induced lung cancer. Confident interpretation of the excesses of cancers of the nasal cavities and small intestine is not possible, although occupational exposures received in this industry may well not be involved. An excess of skin cancer in transmission workers may be associated with outdoor working.

Key words: Electricity supply industry; cancer incidence
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342–351
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2019


  • Electricity supply industry
  • cancer incidence


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