Occupational socioeconomic risk associations for head and neck cancer in Europe and South America: individual participant data analysis of pooled case-control studies within the INHANCE Consortium

David I Conway, Jan Hovanec, Wolfgang Ahrens, Alastair Ross, Ivana Holcatova, Pagona Lagiou, Diego Serraino, Cristina Canova, Lorenzo Richiardi, Claire Healy, Kristina Kjaerheim, Gary J Macfarlane, Peter Thomson, Antonio Agudo, Ariana Znaor, Paul Brennan, Danièle Luce, Gwenn Menvielle, Isabelle Stucker, Simone BenhamouHeribert Ramroth, Paolo Boffetta, Marta Vilensky, Leticia Fernandez, Maria Paula Curado, Ana Menezes, Alexander Daudt, Rosalina Koifman, Victor Wunsch-Filho, Amy Lee Yuan-Chin, Mia Hashibe, Thomas Behrens, Alex D McMahon

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BACKGROUND: The association between socioeconomic disadvantage (low education and/or income) and head and neck cancer is well established, with smoking and alcohol consumption explaining up to three-quarters of the risk. We aimed to investigate the nature of and explanations for head and neck cancer risk associated with occupational socioeconomic prestige (a perceptual measure of psychosocial status), occupational socioeconomic position and manual-work experience, and to assess the potential explanatory role of occupational exposures.

METHODS: Pooled analysis included 5818 patients with head and neck cancer (and 7326 control participants) from five studies in Europe and South America. Lifetime job histories were coded to: (1) occupational social prestige-Treiman's Standard International Occupational Prestige Scale (SIOPS); (2) occupational socioeconomic position-International Socio-Economic Index (ISEI); and (3) manual/non-manual jobs.

RESULTS: For the longest held job, adjusting for smoking, alcohol and nature of occupation, increased head and neck cancer risk estimates were observed for low SIOPS OR=1.88 (95% CI: 1.64 to 2.17), low ISEI OR=1.74 (95% CI: 1.51 to 1.99) and manual occupations OR=1.49 (95% CI: 1.35 to 1.64). Following mutual adjustment by socioeconomic exposures, risk associated with low SIOPS remained OR=1.59 (95% CI: 1.30 to 1.94).

CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate that low occupational socioeconomic prestige, position and manual work are associated with head and neck cancer, and such risks are only partly explained by smoking, alcohol and occupational exposures. Perceptual occupational psychosocial status (SIOPS) appears to be the strongest socioeconomic factor, relative to socioeconomic position and manual/non-manual work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)779-787
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Early online date23 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding This work was supported by funders of the original studies. ARCAGE (Western Europe): European Community (5th Framework Programme) grant no QLK1-CT-2001-00182; France study: Swiss League against Cancer (KFS1069-09-2000), Fribourg League against Cancer (FOR381.88), Swiss Cancer Research (AKT 617) and Gustave-Roussy Institute (88D28); Germany-Heidelberg study: German Ministry of Education and Research (No. 01GB9702/3); Latin American study: Fondo para la Investigacion Cientifica y Tecnologica (FONCYT) Argentina, IMIM (Barcelona), Fundaco de Amparo a Pesquisa no Estado de Sao Paulo (FAPESP) (No. 01/01768-2), and European Commission (IC18-CT97-0222); INHANCE Pooled Data Project: NCI (R03CA113157, NIDCR R03DE016611). ICARE (France 2001–2007): French National Research Agency (ANR); French National Cancer Institute (INCA); French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES); French Institute for Public Health Surveillance (InVS); Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale (FRM); Fondation de France; Fondation ARC pour la Recherche sur le Cancer; French Ministry of Labour (Direction Générale du Travail); French Ministry of Health (Direction Générale de la Santé).


  • cancer epidemiology
  • cancer: occupational
  • socioeconomic


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