Sun, May 07, 2006 - Page 2 News List

More workers dying of cancer

OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS A labor study showed that male workers were more susceptible to cancer of the liver, while women suffered more from breast cancer

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Cancer topped the list as the leading cause of death among the nation's workers in 2004, followed by accidents and cirrhosis of the liver, according to a study by the government's Institute on Occupational Safety and Health yesterday.

The study among the nation's approximately 8.9 million blue-collar and white-collar workers showed that the likelihood of a worker contracting and dying of cancer was 23 percent higher than the national average. Specifically, workers in the 40 to 54 age bracket had a higher risk of contracting cancer.

"A possible explanation behind the higher risk [of workers dying from cancer] could be because they are more exposed to cancer-causing factors in their workplace," said Chen Chiou-jong (陳秋蓉), director of the institute's occupational medicine division.

The study showed that male workers were more susceptible to cancer of the liver (26.9 percent), oral cancer (13.5 percent) and lung cancer (12.4 percent).

These three types of cancer were particularly prevalent among workers in the transportation, fishing and construction industries.

Female workers, meanwhile, had a higher incidence of breast cancer (9.9 percent), lung cancer (7.5 percent) and rectum and colon cancers (5.5 percent).

The study found that workers in the service industry, such as laundromats, barbershops, funeral homes, fishing and construction had a higher rate of death from cancer.

The study also showed that male workers were more likely to be afflicted by cardiovascular diseases compared to their female counterparts.

Women, on the other hand, were more likely to suffer from diabetes and cerebrovascular diseases.

The institute's chairperson, Shih Tung-sheng (石東生), said that while the Department of Health had released figures on the leading causes of death in the country every year, it had never provided statistics directly relating to the cause of death among workers. This has resulted in difficulties in limiting occupational hazards, Shih said.

Leading types of cancer

* Men: liver cancer, 26.9 percent

* Men: oral cancer, 13.5 percent

* Men: lung cancer, 12.4 percent

* Women: breast cancer, 9.9 percent

* Women: lung cancer, 7.5 percent

* Women: rectum and colon cancer, 5.5 percent

Source: Institute on Occupational Safety and Health

To fill this gap, the institute began by analyzing the statistics on the causes of death in 2004 in the databases of the health department and the Labor Insurance Bureau. Statistics on last year's incidence will not be available until next month.

Among other findings, the study showed that workers were 65 percent more likely than the average person to die from accidents.

In particular, those in the 15 to 19 years age bracket were at higher risk of dying from accidents, while those in the 55 to 59 age group were more likely to suffer from chronic liver diseases.

By comparison, the nation's number one cause of death among workers and non-workers is cancer, followed by cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.

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