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Ovarian Cancer Incidence in the United States in Relation to Manufacturing Industry
  1. Gary G. Schwartz, MPH, PhD*,, and
  2. Abe E. Sahmoun, PhD§
  1. *Departments of Cancer Biology,
  2. Epidemiology and Prevention, and
  3. Urology, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC; and
  4. §Department of Internal Medicine, University of North Dakota, Fargo, ND.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Abe E. Sahmoun, PhD, University of North Dakota, Medical Education Bldg, 1919 Elm St N, Fargo, ND 58102. E-mail: abe.sahmoun{at}


Objective Ovarian cancer is primarily a disease of the industrialized world. However, few factors associated with industrialization that contribute to the etiology of ovarian cancer have been identified. We sought to explore factors potentially associated with ovarian cancer by correlating ovarian cancer incidence rates in US states with the distribution of US manufacturing.

Methods Data on age-adjusted incidence rates for ovarian cancer per state in the United States and manufacturing rates per state were analyzed using multiple linear regression controlling for access to ovarian cancer care, fertility rate, and other potential confounders.

Results In univariate analyses, ovarian cancer incidence rates were positively correlated with the extent of manufacturing, with dairy production, and with the manufacturing of pulp and paper. Using multiple linear regression, only the correlation of ovarian cancer with pulp and paper manufacturing industry was significant. The correlation of ovarian cancer with pulp and paper manufacturing industry remained significant after adjusting for access to ovarian cancer care, fertility rates, and other potential confounders (P < 0.05).

Conclusions Pulp and paper mills are associated with exposures to known ovarian carcinogens. Further epidemiological study of exposures involved in the manufacturing of pulp and paper in relation to risk of ovarian cancer is warranted.

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Ecological study
  • Manufacturing
  • Pulp and paper
  • Etiology

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  • The authors declare no conflicts of interest.