WINDSOR, Ontario — When some women walk onto a factory floor, punch their time card at a food processing facility, or start their shift at the foundry, they are literally dying to go to work, union members and health care advocates say.
A study that showed women working in those industries have a higher risk for breast cancer raised calls for protection of those workers.
And after the study’s principal researchers presented the results of their work to about 40 people here Monday, the reaction was anger, rather than fear.
“We have to say enough is enough,” said Terry Weymouth, a skills co-ordinator with the Canadian Auto Workers. “We are not dying because we need jobs.
“It’s time we stand up and say this is not right,” she said. “We should be mad. One in nine women are diagnosed with breast cancer.”
The six-year study, published Monday in the journal Environmental Health, examined the occupational histories of 1,006 women in Essex and Kent counties who had breast cancer, and another 1,146 who did not.
The researchers, who came from Canada, the U.S., and the U.K., took into account factors like smoking, weight, alcohol use and other lifestyle and reproductive factors. The women in the study worked in auto parts plants, casinos, food canning factories, on farms, and in metalworking plants.
The researchers found that women who work in the automotive plastics industry were almost five times as likely to develop breast cancer, prior to menopause, as women in a control group.
Lead researcher James Brophy called the work “a local study that has far-reaching implications.”