Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 299–307 | Cite as

Occupational cancer mortality among urban women in the former USSR

  • Mariana Bulbulyan
  • Shelia Hoar Zahm
  • David G. Zaridze
Research Papers


Occupational cancer mortality was evaluated among approximately three million female pensioners from urban areas of the former USSR. In 1970, these women experienced 14,918 cancer deaths. Occupational data were obtained from death certificates and the 1970 USSR National Population Census. Thirty-five occupational groups, including nine predominantly professional or office-work groups and 26 groups involving physical labor, were evaluated. The expected mortality rates were based on the urban female population of the USSR in 1970. Data for all cancer sites combined, and cancers of the esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, lung, breast, cervix, and hematopoietic system are presented. Among all female pensioners, there were significant increases of all cancers combined (rate ratio [RR]=1.05), and cancers of the breast (RR=1.3), cervix (RR=1.3), and the hematopoietic system (RR=1.2), and a significant deficit of cancer of the esophagus (RR=0.8). Many well-established associations between cancer and occupation among men were observed among the study group of female pensioners, such as stomach and lung cancer among miners, and hematopoietic malignancies among scientists and physicians. Other associations, to be investigated further, also were observed, such as excess lung cancer among waitresses. The peak employment period for this cohort of women was during World War II and the postwar period, when Soviet women outnumbered men almost two-to-one. Consequently, many of the women held jobs that are typically held by men. Thus, this study provides valuable information on occupational risks to women that may be relevant in other countries where women increasingly are being employed in jobs traditionally held by men.

Key words

Cancer epidemiology etiology mortality neoplasms occupation USSR women 


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Copyright information

© Rapid Communications of Oxford Ltd 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mariana Bulbulyan
  • Shelia Hoar Zahm
  • David G. Zaridze

There are no affiliations available

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