Meat industry may cause cancer in women

A US study of over 7,000 women union members in the meat industry found that those working in supermarket meat departments had a 3-fold increased risk of death from myeloid leukaemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. These women, together with women employed in chicken slaughtering factories and meat-packing plants (slaughterhouses), also had a greater risk of lung cancer than those employed in non-meat work. The authors note: “The findings need to be confirmed, but the excess of lung cancer we observed is consistent with reports of an excess of lung cancer in butchers and meatcutters from the analysis of national statistics over different periods in England and Wales, Denmark and Sweden, and also from other studies.”

ES Johnson and others. Occurrence of cancer in women in the meat industry, British Journal of Industrial Medicine, volume 43, number 9, pages 597-604, 1986.

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