A staggering 8% of all cancer deaths in Britain are a result of exposure to carcinogens in the workplace, research from the Imperial College London has revealed.
The proportion of those exposed was higher for men at 8% with around 2.5% of female cancers being occupationally linked.
Presented at a seminar hosted by HealthScreen UK, the research conducted for the Health and Safety Executive seeked to assess the current burden and risk of occupational cancer in Britain. It estimated that there were 13,500 new cases of occupational cancer each year, leading to over 8,000 deaths.
Mesothelioma - which is most often caused from exposure to asbestos - was the most common occupational cancer identified and was estimated that almost all mesothelioma cancers were a result of workplace carcinogens.
Following these were sinonasal cancer, lung cancer (14.5%), and bladder cancer (4.5%). Lung cancer was the biggest cause of death in 4,020 of men and 725 of females followed by mesothelioma in 1,937 of workers.
Female night shift workers were also confirmed as having a 51% increased risk of breast cancer, with 5% of all breast cancer cases caused by night shift work. According to the research, exposure to light at night alters circadian rhythms that disrupt genetic changes in key cancer pathways.
Imperial College London's Dr Lesley Rushton explained that employers should be taking measures to address the issues raised.
"I would start by looking at my industry and what out of there is likely to be the likely carcinogens and what does the data tell me about that. I would think about what are the priorities, look at what measures you have already in place.
"And also thinking about the new generation, it's very hard to say to the workforce it's too late because of course it isn't. We know for example if you stop smoking your risk of smoking related disease goes down, so it's not too late to help prevent some of these diseases."
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