Asbestoscement and cancer risk

It is well established that asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer, mesothelioma and a number of other cancers. This project is a 70-year follow-up of workers and spouses/children of workers at Norway's only asbestos cement factory, which was in operation from around 1945-1981.

Background and purpose

In 1976 and in 2002, the Norwegian Cancer Registry investigated the cancer risk among men who had been employed at the factory for one year or more, and found a significantly increased risk of certain cancers. We will now also include short-term employees and women, as well as spouses and children of employees, and compare their cancer risk with the incidence in the general population. If possible, we will also make comparisons between high and low exposures. The long follow-up period will provide new information about risk long after the exposure has ceased. Inclusion of spouses and children, as well as short-term employees, will provide important information about risk among those with low exposure. This is of interest as asbestos is still present in older buildings and structures, and is therefore still an environmental risk to be reckoned with.

The project is carried out in collaboration between the Norwegian Cancer Registry and the National institute of occupational health.

The study population consists of production and service workers at Norsk Eternitfabrikk, employed 1945-1981, as well as their spouses and children, a total of approximately 2,400 people.


In the project, health information and socio-economic information about male employees at the asbestos factory and spouses and children of employees are processed. Health information collected in previous surveys is linked to health information in statutory health registers (the Cancer Register and the Causes of Death Register) as well as socio-economic information (occupation/place of residence) from Statistics Norway.

Only research staff at the Cancer Registry and the National institute of occupational health who are specially authorized have access to the information. The research staff only have access to research data, and not to directly personally identifiable information, which has been replaced with a study-specific serial number. A connection key is kept by the Cancer Registry's data delivery unit.

Read more about privacy at the Cancer Registry


Ulvestad et al. Cancer incidence among workers in the asbestos-cement producing industry in Norway. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2002 Dec; 28(6):411-7.