Work, Environment and Cancer

Group leader: Ole Raaschou-Nielsen

We focus on identification of risk factors for cancer in the work- and external environment.

We investigate a number of potential risk factors in the external environment (e.g., air pollution, noise, pesticides and other chemicals) as well as work-related exposures (e.g., shift work, firefighters, welders, seafarers, and IARC group 2A and 2B chemicals).

We have ongoing studies on among others:

  • Air pollution and risk for different cancers and other diseases
  • Identification of the most harmful components of particulate matter air pollution
  • Noise and risk for several cancers and other diseases
  • Shift work and risk for different cancers
  • Occupational risk factors for breast cancer
  • Parental occupational exposures and risk of cancer in offspring
  • Fluorinated compounds and risk for breast cancer
Work, Environment and Cancer test

Air pollution affects large populations worldwide both occupationally and in the external environment

We use nationwide and reliable Danish registries intensively, including the Central Population Registry, the Cancer Registry, the Hospitalization Register, the Medical Birth Register the Pension Register and the Medical Prescription register.Further, we use socio-demographic data for the Danish population from registries at Statistics Denmark.

We use different designs ranging from nation-wide cohorts to case-cohort designs based on classical cohorts with biological samples as well as case-control studies. 

Identification of risk factors facilitate prevention of cancer. Our results contribute to authorities’ and IARC’s classification of carcinogens and documentation for the Danish National Board on Industrial Injuries.

Selected publications

Eriksen KT, McElroy JA, Harrington JM, Levine KE, Pedersen C, Sorensen M, Tjønneland A, Meliker JR, Raaschou-Nielsen O: Urinary Cadmium and Breast Cancer: A Prospective Danish Cohort Study. J Natl Cancer Inst 2016;109(2):djw204

Raaschou-Nielsen O, Andersen ZJ, Beelen R, Samoli E, Stafoggia M, Weinmayr G, Hoffmann B, Fischer P, Nieuwenhuijsen MJ, Brunekreef B, Xun WW, Katsouyanni K, Dimakopoulou K, Sommar J, Forsberg B, Modig L, Oudin A, Oftedal B, Schwarze PE, Nafstad P, De Faire U, Pedersen NL, Ostenson CG, Fratiglioni L, Penell J, Korek M, Pershagen G, Eriksen KT, Sorensen M, Tjønneland A, Ellermann T, Eeftens M, Peeters PH, Meliefste K, Wang M, Bueno-de-Mesquita B, Key TJ, de Hoogh K, Concin H, Nagel G, Vilier A, Grioni S, Krogh V, Tsai MY, Ricceri F, Sacerdote C, Galassi C, Migliore E, Ranzi A, Cesaroni G, Badaloni C, Forastiere F, Tamayo I, Amiano P, Dorronsoro M, Trichopoulou A, Bamia C, Vineis P, Hoek G. Air pollution and lung cancer incidence in 17 European cohorts: prospective analyses from the European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE). Lancet Oncol 2013;14:813-822

Hansen J: Night Shift Work and Risk of Breast Cancer. Curr Environ Health Rep 2017;4(3):325-339

Pedersen JE, Strandberg-Larsen K, Andersson M, Hansen J: Breast cancer among Danish women occupationally exposed to diesel exhaust and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, 1964-2016. Scand J Work Environ Health 2020; 3923 (online ahead of print)

Volk J, Heck JE, Schmiegelow K, Hansen J: Parental occupational exposure to diesel engine exhaust in relation to childhood leukaemia and central nervous system cancers: a register-based nested case-control study in Denmark 1968–2016. Occ Environ Med 2019;76 (11):809-817

Sørensen M, Ketzel M, Overvad K, Tjønneland A, Raaschou-Nielsen O: Exposure to road traffic and railway noise and postmenopausal breast cancer: a cohort study. Int J Cancer 2014;134:2691-2698

Roswall N, Raaschou-Nielsen O; Ketzel M, Overvad K, Halkjær J, Sørensen M: Modeled traffic noise at the residence and colorectal cancer incidence - a cohort study. Cancer Causes Control 2017;28(7):745-753

Hvidtfeldt UA, Erdmann F, Urhøj SK, Brandt J, Geels C, Ketzel M, Frohn LM, Christensen JH, Sørensen M, Raaschou-Nielsen O: Air pollution exposure at the residence and risk of childhood cancers in Denmark: A nationwide register-based case-control study. EClinicalMedicine 2020; 28:100569


Group leader Ole Raaschou-Nielsen
Research profile


Work, Environment and Cancer
Staff Members

Key Funding

National Institute of Health (NIH), USA


Health Effects Institute, USA

Danish Research Council


Danish Working Environment Fund