10/29/2013 11:45 am ET Updated Oct 30, 2013

Truck Driving Linked With Aggressive Prostate Cancer In New Study


Men who say their longest job was truck driving might face a higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer, according to a new study.

The findings, presented at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, also showed an association between working at a garden shop for at least six months and a higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

The study is based on data from 1,083 European-American and 1,049 African-American men who had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The participants were asked about the job they most recently held before the diagnosis, as well as the occupation they spent the longest time working in during their lifetimes. They were also asked whether they had worked in a garden shop, as an animal caretaker, as an exterminator or as a landscaper for more than six months in their lives.

While researchers did identify an association between working in a garden shop for more than six months and aggressive prostate cancer, as well as a long period of time spent working as a truck driver and aggressive prostate cancer, they did not find associations between work as an exterminator, landscaper or animal caretaker and aggressive prostate cancer. Study researcher L. Joseph Su, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the National Cancer Institute, also told HuffPost that construction workers and people who work in the financial industry -- such as accountants -- faced a higher aggressive prostate cancer risk.

However, Su noted that the study is purely epidemiological and only shows an association between these occupations and aggressive prostate cancer risk. It does not prove that truck driving causes aggressive prostate cancer.

There are several potential hypotheses that could explain the association, he said. For instance, other studies have shown possible links between whole-body vibrations and prostate risks.

"Truck drivers are on the road for a long period of time," Su said, and while this may not be as much the case with newer trucks, "older trucks have a lot of vibration and bumping of the engine. Long-term vibration from the engine, which is right next to your prostate, for a long period of time," could potentially be a risk factor.

Another possible factor, he noted, could be the lifestyle behaviors of people who drive trucks for a living. They might not be as physically active, for instance, or their diets may not be healthy due to the limited food options on the road.

"That's something that I plan to ... look at with my colleagues," Su said. While researchers for this study did track the study participants' diets, they only controlled for body mass index in the analysis.


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