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Helen Zukin
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Study Finds IBM Workers at Increased Risk for Cancer Death

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Study finds IBM workers at increased risk of cancer. Cancer rate higher than national average for IBM workers

A study of nearly 32,000 International Business Machines Corp. workers found a statistically significant increase in worker cancer death rates. The study looked at data collected by IBM on the causes of death of a large number of workers who died between 1969 and 2001. For years IBM attempted to suppress the study’s findings and fought to keep the author of the study from publishing it in a scientific journal.

The information was kept in what IBM labeled its “Corporate Mortality File”. The study was conducted by Dr. Richard Clapp, a Boston University professor of environmental health. Dr. Clapp looked at death records of male and female IBM employees who had worked for the company for a minimum of five years. He then compared the IBM employee cancer death rates to the national death rates for particular cancers. A number of different types of cancer were markedly higher in the IBM male employees; including cancers of the kidneys, brain, central nervous system and skin. As for women, the cancer rates were elevated for breast, lung, brain, female organs and the nervous system.

The use of cancer causing chemicals in the technology industry, semiconductor and disk drive factories may explain some of the IBM workers increase in cancer rates. IBM has challenged the study’s findings calling it, “junk science”, however, the study was recently published in the highly reputable, peer-reviewed scientific journal, Environmental Health.