If you’re a cop, a logger or a painter, you may have a higher risk of getting prostate cancer than men working in other fields, according to a new study.

The study, which is one of the largest ever to investigate potential links between professions and prostate cancer, involved almost 2,000 men from French-speaking hospitals in Montreal.

Participants included men aged 75 and younger who were diagnosed in 2005-2009 and a similar number of age-matched, healthy men who had been randomly selected from electoral lists. Participants were interviewed about every job they’d held for at least a year.

“We were focusing on each of the occupations they had held in the past — ‘What were your tasks? What were the chemicals you were using? Were you sitting? Walking?’” said principal investigator Marie-Elise Parent, of the Institut national de la recherche scientifique at the Université du Québec.

What the researchers found was that police officers, detectives and men in the forestry field were about twice as likely to have been diagnosed with prostate cancer as those who had never held those jobs. Painters and decorators were three times more likely to get prostate cancer. 

The researchers pointed to previously published studies detailing a phenomenon known as “occupational whole body vibration” (WBV), in which “mechanical energy is transmitted to the body” by way of vibrating surfaces as a possible clue. Vibration has been linked with prostate abnormalities. 

“We might wonder, could it be the vibration from the saws they are using,” Parent said, referring to those in the forestry industry. Alternatively, “Could it be the emissions from the engines, the diesel exhaust?”

For men working in the law enforcement field, harmful exposures could include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in exhausts or non-ionizing radiation from radar guns.

Police work can also involve night and shift work, which has been known to disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm and result in lower levels of the sleep hormone melatonin. Parent said melatonin helps regulate hormonal functions, including those regulating the prostate.

The researchers are working with chemists and industrial hygienists to determine which occupational “exposures and circumstances” may be playing a role in prostate cancer diagnosis.

h/t National Post.