This chapter reviews the past and current history of occupational cancer epidemiology, and indicates which occupational exposures are presently considered to be definite or probable carcinogens. It describes the basic study designs of occupational cancer research, particularly in regard to exposure assessment. It discusses the types of evidence that have stimulated studies of occupational cancer and considers how data generated by occupational studies are used in risk assessment for workplace regulations, and in the calculation of attributable fractions to quantify the burden of occupational cancer. Finally, it discusses some current controversies and proposes likely future directions for occupational epidemiology. These include a focus on exposures such as shift work and sedentary work habits, which are not traditional toxins. In addition, it will be important to document the carcinogenic effects of established occupational carcinogens in less developed countries where they have not been studied, as a means to affect policy and ensure safe workplaces.
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