International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) - Summaries & Evaluations


VOL.: 25 (1981) (p. 139)

5. Summary of Data Reported and Evaluation

5.1 Summary of data

An increased proportion of carpenters and joiners among nasal adenocarcinoma patients is reported from a case-control study from the UK comparing nasal adenocarcinoma with other types of nasal cancers and from two studies, one from Australia and one from Sweden, comparing series of cases of nasal adenocarcinoma with cases of other nasal cancers. In a cohort mortality study from Denmark, an increased risk for nasal cancer (any type) is reported for carpenters and cabinet-makers taken together; three of the four observed deaths occurred in workers in the latter category. No carpenter was recorded in a large Danish clinical series of patients with nasal adenocarcinomas. No cases of nasal cancer were observed among carpenters in an incidence study in the UK, which revealed a substantial number of nasal adenocarcinomas in furniture workers. No excess risk of nasal cancer (all types) for carpenters could be shown in two case-control studies, one from Canada and one from Finland.

A small elevation of relative risk for lung cancer among carpenters and joiners has been reported in one analysis of death certificates in the US, and in each of the three decennial analyses of occupational mortality reports in England and Wales. Two of these surveys also indicated an increased mortality for bladder cancer among carpenters and joiners. Four case-control studies (three from the US, one from Israel) on Hodgkin's disease show an increased risk for carpenters, limited in one study to one subcategory of the cases. An elevated risk is also reported in one analysis of occupational mortality from the US, but not in a similar study from England and Wales.

An increased risk for stomach cancer was observed in a Washington State occupational mortality analysis, but not in the data from England and Wales.

The term 'carpenter' is applied to completely different kinds of jobs in different countries: carpenters can be employed in occupations such as building, shipbuilding, metal factories and mining. Therefore, the exposure of this group of workers to chemicals and other materials varies widely and comprises a wide range of substances, for some of which there is evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and/or experimental animals (see Appendix 4, in this volume).

5.2 Evaluation

The epidemiological data are not sufficient to make a definitive assessment of the carcinogenic risks of employment as a carpenter or joiner. A number of studies, however, raise the possibility of an increased risk of Hodgkin's disease. There is conflicting evidence about an association between nasal adenocarcinoma and work as a carpenter. The highest level of relative risk reported is much lower than that for cabinet-makers and other woodworkers in the furniture industry, and much of the evidence is anecdotal; the possibility that the reported cases of nasal cancer had worked in these industries could not be ruled out. The evidence suggesting increased risks of lung, bladder and stomach cancer comes from large population-based occupational mortality statistical studies and is inadequate to allow an evaluation of risks for these tumours.

Subsequent evaluation: Suppl. 7 (1987)

Last updated: 8 April 1998

    See Also:
       Toxicological Abbreviations
       Carpentry and Joinery  (IARC Summary & Evaluation, Supplement7, 1987)