HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Lymphohaematopoietic malignancies in Scottish military veterans: Retrospective cohort study of 57,000 veterans and 173,000 non-veterans (Scotland)

Article

Lymphohaematopoietic malignancies are common in the general population. There have been concerns that military service may be associated with increased risk as a result of occupational exposures. This study examines the risk of lymphohaematopoietic malignancy following military service in a large national cohort of veterans.

Abstract

Lymphohaematopoietic malignancies are common in the general population. There have been concerns that military service may be associated with increased risk as a result of occupational exposures. To date, few studies have demonstrated an increased risk, although a disability pension is payable to veterans who were present at nuclear tests and who develop leukaemia (other than chronic lymphocytic leukaemia). The aim of the study was to utilise data from the Scottish Veterans Health Study to examine the risk of lymphohaematopoietic malignancy following military service in a large national cohort of veterans. Retrospective cohort study of 57,000 veterans and 173,000 non-veterans born between 1945 and 1985 matched for age, sex and area of residence, adjusted for areal deprivation and followed up for up to 30 years, using Cox proportional hazard models to compare the risk of lymphohaematopoietic malignancy overall, by diagnosis and by sex and birth cohort. We found no statistically significant difference in risk between veterans and non-veterans either for all leukaemias (Cox proportional hazard ratio 1.03, 95% confidence intervals 0.84–1.27, p = 0.773), Hodgkin lymphoma (hazard ratio 1.19, 95% confidence intervals 0.87–1.61, p = 0.272) or for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (hazard ratio 0.86, 95% confidence intervals 0.71–1.04, p = 0.110). Our findings provide reassurance that service in the UK Armed Forces is not associated with increased risk of lymphohaematopoietic malignancy.

Full Reference

Bergman, B. P., Mackay, D. F. and Pell, J. P., 2017. Lymphohaematopoietic malignancies in Scottish military veterans: Retrospective cohort study of 57,000 veterans and 173,000 non-veterans. Cancer Epidemiology, 47, pp. 100-105.