A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Montreal titled “Occupational Environment and Ovarian Cancer Risk,” has shed light on potential occupational factors associated with ovarian cancer. The study was published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
The disease, which claims the lives of over 13,000 women annually in the US alone, has become a matter of concern for public health experts and researchers worldwide.
It was the most common cancer presented at the Federal University Teaching Hospital, Owerri (FUTHO) between the years 2020 and 2022.
The University of Montreal’s research involved 497 women recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Montreal, matched with 897 women without the disease based on age and address. Detailed occupational histories were taken, mapping each job to industries and environmental exposures using a job-exposure matrix.
The study revealed intriguing findings, indicating that hairdressers face higher risks of ovarian cancer, possibly linked to the continuous exposure to various chemicals they encounter. Surprisingly, accountants ranked as the second highest-risk profession, showing approximately a two-fold higher risk. While this result may raise questions and require further investigation, unique occupational factors like exposure to volatile organic compounds from office printers or a sedentary office environment might be contributing factors.
The research also highlighted specific exposures associated with high risks, including mononuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, bleaches, ethanol, and fluorocarbons. However, caution is warranted, as these exposures were imputed based on job categories, making it challenging to isolate the exact causative agent.
Despite leaving some questions unanswered, this study provides a starting point for future research aimed at identifying the definitive culprits responsible for the increased risk of ovarian cancer in certain occupations. Until then, hairdressers should ensure well-ventilated workplaces.
Perry Wilson, MD, MSCE, associate professor of medicine and director of Yale’s Clinical and Translational Research Accelerator, emphasises the significance of such studies in the realm of cancer diagnosis. They may eventually lead to identifying specific agents responsible for the heightened risk, helping prevent and manage the disease effectively.
This research offers valuable insights into the link between occupational environments and ovarian cancer risk, urging further investigation into the potential risk factors present in certain professions.