Paternal occupational exposures have been proposed as a risk factor for childhood central nervous system (CNS) tumours. This study investigates possible associations between paternal occupational exposure and childhood CNS tumours in Great Britain.
The National Registry of Childhood Tumours provided all cases of childhood CNS tumours born and diagnosed in Great Britain from 1962 to 2006. Controls without cancer were matched on sex, period of birth and birth registration sub-district. Fathers' occupations were assigned to one or more of 33 exposure groups. A measure of social class was also derived from father's occupation at the time of the child's birth.
Of 11 119 cases of CNS tumours, 5 722 (51%) were astrocytomas or other gliomas, 2 286 (21%) were embryonal and 985 (9%) were ependymomas. There was an increased risk for CNS tumours overall with exposure to animals, odds ratio (OR) 1.40 (95% confidence intervals (CIs) 1.01, 1.94) and, after adjustment for occupational social class (OSC), with exposure to lead, OR 1.18 (1.01, 1.39). Exposure to metal-working oil mists was associated with reduced risk of CNS tumours, both before and after adjustment for OSC, OR 0.87 (0.75, 0.99).
Risk of ependymomas was raised for exposure to solvents, OR 1.73 (1.02,2.92). For astrocytomas and other gliomas, risk was raised with high social contact, although this was only statistically significant before adjustment for OSC, OR 1.15 (1.01,1.31). Exposure to paints and metals appeared to reduce the risk of astrocytomas and embryonal tumours, respectively. However, as these results were the result of a number of statistical tests, it is possible they were generated by chance.
Higher social class was a risk factor for all CNS tumours, OR 0.97 (0.95, 0.99). This was driven by increased risk for higher social classes within the major subtype astrocytoma, OR 0.95 (0.91, 0.98).
Our results provide little evidence that paternal occupation is a significant risk factor for childhood CNS tumours, either overall or for specific subtypes. However, these analyses suggest that OSC of the father may be associated with risk of some childhood CNS cancers.