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Major study to examine workplace cancer causes

TORONTO – The Canadian Cancer Society is funding a groundbreaking study that will determine how many new cancer cases and cancer deaths can be attributed to workplace factors.

The four-year study, the first of its kind in Canada, will look at the human and economic impact of workplace exposure to 44 known or suspected carcinogens and their connections to 27 types of cancer.

“At the end of the study we will have solid data which will ultimately help guide industry leaders and policy makers to decide where to change, strengthen or enforce regulations on workplace exposures in order to help prevent workplace-related cancers,” explained Dr. Paul Demers, director of the Occupational Cancer Research Centre, in a statement.

Demers will lead a team of scientists, epidemiologists and health economists in the study, which received a $1 million grant from the Canadian Cancer Society. He hopes the results will also help new physicians be better informed about the occupational causes of cancer and lead to earlier diagnosis.

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Researchers will evaluate carcinogens identified by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, including metals and industrial chemicals, as well as factors like shift work, sunlight and fumes from paint and fuel.

The study will look at the cost of work-related cancers on the country, from direct costs like medical care to indirect costs like time off work. It will break down the results by province, industry, sector and gender.