Benzene-related risk of cancer among Norwegian offshore workers

There are several ongoing research sub-projects at the Cancer Registry of Norway (CRN) that will investigate cancer risk among offshore workers. This project will look into recent benzene exposure offshore in relation to risk of different cancers.
Last updated: 12/8/2020

Status

  • In December 2019, the project received a grant of 6 mill NOK from the Research Council of Norway’ PETROMAKS2 program (project no. 308846), and 1.5 mill NOK from the Norwegian oil companies and the Norwegian Shipowners Association.
  • In May/June 2020, a Collaboration Agreement was signed between the oil companies and the Cancer Registry.
  • In November 2020, the project received ethical approval from the Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics (REK), project no. 136984 for receivement and usage of register data.
  • In January 2021, the Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) was approved
  • Status as of May 2021: the Heliport cohort is under establishment.

Background

In recent years, there has been increased awareness of benzene exposure and the associated risk of cancer. Research suggests that benzene has a carcinogenic effect at lower concentrations than first thought, and that benzene exposure may be linked to several types of cancer, such as lymphomas and leukaemia. Our studies on this topic used data from the “Offshore-cohort” from 1998, which include offshore workers active between 1965 and 1998. For evaluation of more recent exposures, which may be lower than those of the 1980s–1990s, there is a need for new data from the last 20 years of offshore activity.

Aims

This study will use data from the new “heliport-cohort” to study benzene exposure and the risk of cancer among offshore workers in recent years. The first scientific questions are:

Does benzene exposure measured as a time-dependent variable and occurring at low levels increase the risk of lymphomas, leukaemia, and related cancers?

Does benzene exposure measure as a time-dependent variable lead to increased lung cancer risk when smoking habits are adjusted for?

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Findings