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Acta Médica Costarricense

versión On-line ISSN 0001-6002versión impresa ISSN 0001-6012


PARTANEN, Timo; MONGE, Patricia  y  WESSELING, Catharina. Causes and Prevention of Occupational Cancer. Acta méd. costarric [online]. 2009, vol.51, n.4, pp.195-205. ISSN 0001-6002.

Occupational cancers are highly preventable. This communication summarizes the data on occupational carcinogenic hazards, highlighting important worker groups and prevention. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified 29 agents that may occur at work in Group 1 (carcinogenic in humans); 26 in Group 2A (probably carcinogenic); and 113 in Group 2B (possibly carcinogenic). Frequent occupational carcinogens in Central America include solar (Group 1) and ultraviolet (2A) radiation, diesel emissions (2A), polyaromatic hydrocarbons (1-3), environmental tobacco smoke (1), hexavalent chromium compounds (1) and benzene (1). Regarding women, studies on breast and ovarian cancer suggest associations with occupational exposures. The data on carcinogenic risks in the informal economy are scanty. Carcinogenic agents that may be present occur in agriculture include solar radiation, aflatoxins, diesel emissions, viruses, dusts, solvents and pesticides. Carcinogenic agents in the health sector include ethylene oxide; formaldehyde; environmental tobacco smoke; tri- and tetrachloroethylene; benzene; asbestos; carcinogenic drugs, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, viruses and waste materials; and carcinogenic gases. Environmental exposures during development and infancy may cause childhood cancer. Prevention of health risks at the workplace is the responsibility of the employer. The principle of precaution, due to sparse, plausible and credible evidence about probable danger and the establishment of safety and health committees are recommended.

Palabras clave : health sector; informal economy; occupational exposure; childhood cancer; occupational cancer; prevention; agriculture.

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