Women who are employed by the Australian Broadcasting
Corporation (ABC) can be reassured by a new study that has found no
statistically significant excess risk of breast cancer in ABC female employees
in Australian states and territories as a whole compared with state incidence
rates in the general population.
Associate Professor Freddy Sitas, Director of the Cancer Research Division of the Cancer Council NSW, and co-authors conducted a 20-month occupational cohort analysis comparing the number of ABC female employees diagnosed with cancer with the incidence of breast cancer in Australian women.
Their study is published in the latest issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.
"This suggests that any factors that could have contributed to the observed increased risk of breast cancer at ABC Toowong are unlikely to be present in ABC studios elsewhere in Australia," the authors said.
In an accompanying editorial, Professor Bernard Stewart, Head of the Cancer Control Program at South Eastern Sydney and Illawarra Area Health Service, said the study was a good outcome for women employed by the ABC, and for those who worked in Toowong specifically. The possibility that chance might account for the cluster was initially assessed as one in a million.
"The absence of increased risk of breast cancer among ABC employees Australia-wide, together with a failure to identify any agent that could account for the increased risk in Toowong and the 1 in 25 probability that the situation may have arisen by chance, mean the case is closed," Prof Stewart said.
He said ABC staff had no reason to be apprehensive about being at increased risk of cancer.
"There are no reasonable medical or scientific grounds for such women to undergo more rigorous clinical examination or more frequent mammographic screening than is recommended for women in Australia generally," Prof Stewart said.
"Likewise, any notion that the building or site at Toowong presents toxic hazard is now little short of absurd."
The Medical Journal of Australia is a publication of the Australian Medical Association.