Journal Article

Nasopharyngeal carcinoma in Malaysian Chinese: occupational exposures to particles, formaldehyde and heat

R Warwick Armstrong, Peter B Imrey, Munn Sann Lye, M Jocelyn Armstrong, Mimi C Yu and Sham Sani

in International Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of International Epidemiological Association

Volume 29, issue 6, pages 991-998
Published in print December 2000 | ISSN: 0300-5771
Published online December 2000 | e-ISSN: 1464-3685 | DOI:
Nasopharyngeal carcinoma in Malaysian Chinese: occupational exposures to particles, formaldehyde and heat

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Background During 1990–1992, 282 Chinese residents of Selangor and the Federal Territory, Malaysia with histologically confirmed nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) were interviewed about occupational history, diet, alcohol consumption, and tobacco use, as were an equal number of Malaysian Chinese population controls, pair-matched to cases by age and sex.

Methods Exposures to 20 kinds of workplace substances, solar and industrial heat, and cigarette smoke, were analysed by univariate and multivariate methods.

Results Nasopharyngeal carcinoma was associated with occupational exposures to construction, metal and wood dusts; motor fuel and oil; paints and varnishes; certain other chemicals; industrial heat; solar heat from outdoor occupations; certain smokes; cigarette smoking; and childhood exposure to parental smoking. After adjustment for risk from diet and cigarette smoke, only wood dust (OR = 2.36; 95% CI : 1.33– 4.19), and industrial heat (OR = 2.21; 95% CI : 1.12–4.33) remained clearly associated. Wood dust remained statistically significant after further adjustment for social class. No significant crude or adjusted association was found between NPC and formaldehyde (adjusted OR = 0.71; 95% CI : 0.34–1.43).

Conclusions This study supports previous findings that some occupational inhalants are risk factors for NPC. The statistical effect of wood dust remained substantial after adjustment for diet, cigarette smoke, and social class. Intense industrial heat emerged as a previously unreported risk factor, statistically significant even after adjustment for diet and cigarette smoke. No association was found between NPC and formaldehyde.

Keywords: Nasopharyngeal carcinoma; occupations; air particles; formaldehyde; heat; Malaysia

Journal Article.  6246 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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