DISCOUNTING WOMEN | Work cancers go unstudied and unaddressed

Cancer studies have neglected the workplace risks faced by women. Hazards editor Rory O’Neill looks at new evidence of the damaging consequences for prevention, compensation and women’s health.

A rare study of occupational hazards and ovarian cancer has found new evidence that many common jobs undertaken by women are associated with an elevated risk.

The authors of the University of Montreal study, published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine in July 2023, note relatively few studies have evaluated the occupational hazards faced by women.

And those that have, have often failed to account for potentially influential factors, previous employment history, or have included relatively few participants, so limiting the findings, they say.

The UN’s top health and cancer agencies were accused in August 2023 of ‘institutional failure’ and of perpetuating the under-count of occupational cancers in women through “the publication of inaccurate statements about the adverse health effects of exposure to asbestos among females.”

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