Researchers: Brain Cancer Likely Not Linked to Workplace

Pratt & Whitney study releases Phase 2 results

No Conclusive Evidence Found Linking Brain Cancer To Pratt And Whitney Workplace
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No Conclusive Evidence Found Linking Brain Cancer To Pratt And Whitney Workplace

Scientists examining a suspected brain cancer cluster among workers at Pratt & Whitney say the second phase of their results shows very little evidence of an elevated risk among employees. As WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, the final results of the 8-year study are due within a few months.

This $12 million investigation was first begun in 2002, paid for by Pratt & Whitney and overseen by the Connecticut Department of Public Health. It came in response to disquiet among the families of Pratt workers who had died from brain tumors. The researchers looked at hundreds of thousands of employees, going back as far as the 1950s. Among them, 275 suffered from a particularly lethal form of cancer called a glioblastoma. 43 of those cases occurred at the jet engine maker’s former North Haven plant, which was closed in 2001. The scientists say that rate is slightly higher than the population as a whole, but they have uncovered no conclusive evidence that it is related to the workplace. Dr. Gary Marsh is in charge of the study at the University of Pittsburgh.

"It’s going to be as conclusive as it can get in an epidemiology study. This is probably the largest and most comprehensive study of this type ever conducted. Over 200,000 employees, and seven million person years of observation. This is pushing the bounds of epidemiology to the limits, and this is as definitive as it can get."

These results describe the end of phase two of the study. Phase three is focusing on workers’ exposure to particular chemicals or other work hazards, and those results will probably be released to the public early next year.

For WNPR, I'm Harriet Jones.