Occupational Causes of Cancer

  • Jack SiemiatyckiEmail author
  • Mengting Xu
Living reference work entry
Part of the Handbook Series in Occupational Health Sciences book series (HDBSOHS, volume 1)


Many recognized human carcinogens are chemicals or physical agents found in the occupational environment. The present chapter is intended to summarize current information on occupational carcinogens. Most discoveries have been based on epidemiologic research; however, animal experimentation and basic science research have also contributed to this body of knowledge. Establishing a list of occupational carcinogens is not straightforward; since many occupational agents are also found in consumer products and the general environment, it requires judgment as to what should be considered an occupational agent. It is important to synthesize this information for both scientific and public health purposes. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) publishes lists of human carcinogens based on evaluations conducted by expert panels. Based largely on the evaluations published by IARC, and supplemented by our knowledge of the occupations and industries in which they are found, and their target organs, we list 50 definite occupational carcinogens and 51 probable occupational carcinogens. The evidence base for some of these is described. In various countries it has been estimated that between 4% and 14% of all cancer deaths among males are attributable to occupational exposures, and the corresponding range is from 1% to 3% of cancer deaths among females.


Occupation Cancer Etiology Epidemiology IARC Monographs 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.École de santé publiqueUniversité de MontréalMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Université de Montréal Hospital Research Centre, (CRCHUM)MontrealCanada

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