Conference Women, Work and Cancer
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Contrary to popular belief, predominantly female occupations are very much exposed to occupational cancer risks. Effective prevention of the occupational factors could lead to 35,000 fewer cases of breast cancer each year in Europe.
100,000 people die each year in the European Union from cancer caused by bad working conditions. The majority of cancer prevention campaigns neglect this issue, solely targeting individual behaviour. Yet all occupational cancers could be avoided by eliminating the risks at work.
Looking specifically at women, preventing occupational cancers is beset by particular difficulties. Guided by a stereotype associating occupational cancers with male occupations in traditional industries, epidemiological research in this field more often than not focuses on men rather than women. Even so, there is a lot of data available. Predominantly female occupations are very much exposed to occupational cancer risks: hairdressers and beauticians, nurses, cleaners, workers in the pharmaceutical industry, etc.
Accounting for more than 93,000 deaths in 2014, breast cancer is the main cause of death by cancer among women in the European Union, though it is very rare among men (some 1,000 deaths a year). In Europe, numbers of newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer are increasing, while mortality is decreasing due to early detection and improved therapies. According to a study published last year by the European Trade Union Institute, effective prevention of the occupational factors could lead to at least 35,000 fewer cases of breast cancer each year in Europe. The occupational exposures contributing most to the development of breast cancer are chemical carcinogens (in particular in pesticides and in certain drugs), nightwork (which disturbs the functioning of the hormonal system) and ionising radiation (especially in the health sector).
This conference provides an update on the relationship between working conditions and cancer among women, while at the same time looking at how women with cancer struggle with discrimination after contracting the disease or post-recovery. Coming from various European countries, speakers include scientists, women who have struggled with cancer, and trade unionists fighting for better working condition and for eliminating health-related discrimination.
- The full conference programme (in English)
- The entire conference will be broadcast via live streaming
- You can follow the event on Twitter via the hashtag #WomenCanceratWork