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June/July 2007 (vol. 04/1)

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Research Plus

Occupational carcinogens in surgery

Respiratory irritants and carcinogens produced during laser surgery and electrocautery do not increase the risk of lung cancer in theatre nurses, even after many years’ exposure. Potential carcinogens include benzene, formaldehyde and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and an in vitro study had previously suggested that the smoke produced during laser irradiation or electrocauterisation of 1 gram of tissue is equivalent to between three and six cigarettes in terms of mutagenic potential. A 25-year follow-up survey of nearly 87,000 female nurses found no association between duration of employment as an operating room nurse – a proxy measure for surgical smoke exposure – and lung cancer risk.

Scandinavian Journal of Work Environment & Health 2007; 33(2): 140–147.

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Occupational Health at Work June/July 2007 (vol. 04/1) pp38-39