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Cops have a higher risk of prostate cancer, finds new study

cops prostate cancer

cops prostate cancerCops and prostate cancer. A new study from the Université de Montréal and the Université du Québec finds an association between some occupations and a higher risk of developing prostate cancer in men, with loggers and those in the forestry industry having the strongest associations followed by police officers and detectives.

Occupations with an elevated risk include gas station attendants and textile processing occupations.

Although September is officially Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in both Canada and the United States, November -or Movember- has become key to raising awareness of men’s health issues, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health.

This year’s moustache-growing event has taken on a new plain-and-simple approach, according to Jesse Hayman with Movember Canada. “The theme really is ‘Stop Men [From] Dying Too Young’,” says Hayman. “We’re dying six years younger than women and there is no biological reason why.”

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men in Canada and the second most diagnosed worldwide after lung cancer. Over 20,000 new cases are identified each year in Canada, with one in eight men expected to develop prostate cancer during his lifetime and one in 27 to die from it. And while rates of advanced prostate cancer appear to have risen over the past decade in the U.S., according to a study published this past July, in Canada they have generally been on the decline since 2001, according to the Canadian Cancer Society, which attributes the result to improved cancer treatment.

Researchers for the new study interviewed nearly 2,000 Quebec men aged 75 and younger who had been diagnosed with cancer between the years 2005 and 2009 and found unique correlations between some occupations and an elevated risk of developing prostate cancer.

Cops. Prostate cancer. What is the link?

“We were focusing on each of the occupations they had held in the past — ‘What were your tasks? What were the chemicals you were using? Were you sitting? Walking?’ ” said principal investigator Marie-Elise Parent, of the Institut national de la recherche scientifique at the Université du Québec.

The researchers found that unlike in previous studies where links had been drawn between prostate cancer risk and farming as an occupation, the same could not be said for the cohort interviewed here, as the results showed less risk for farmers in comparison to those in white collar jobs such as working in the social sciences, in administration, management and clerical positions – all of which may have fewer chemical exposures but are hazardous in terms of the lack of physical activity, a known risk factor for a range of health problems including cancer.

The higher risk among professions such as policing, logging and truck driving could be in part due to a phenomenon called “whole body vibration,” says Parent. WBV occurs when mechanical energy is transferred to the body, an event which if occurring frequently is known to be associated with prostate abnormalities such as inflammation of the prostate gland.

The constant body vibration accompanying occupations like logger and truck driver may have something to do with the higher risk for prostate cancer, says Parent. “We might wonder, could it be the vibration from the saws they are using,” Parent said. Alternatively, “Could it be the emissions from the engines, the diesel exhaust?”

The new study is published in the journal Environmental Health.


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About The Author /

Jayson is a writer, researcher and educator with a PhD in political philosophy from the University of Ottawa. His interests range from bioethics and innovations in the health sciences to governance, social justice and the history of ideas.
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