The industrial region of south Yorkshire in northern England has a particularly high rate of bladder cancer. A new research project is looking for links between the high prevalence of this type of cancer and steelworkers’ exposure to different workplace carcinogens, including synthetic dyes.

James Catto, a urologist at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital who is leading the investigation, said "Bladder cancer is a common and serious problem in Yorkshire. The trend for smoking is the same in most parts of the country, so we believe there is an occupational factor causing this".

The research combines laboratory tests on cells treated with metals that steelworkers are commonly exposed to with a survey of 2,000 bladder cancer patients and is likely to take three years.

The idea for the project came out of observations made by Simon Pickvance, who runs an occupational health advisory service in Sheffield. Struck by the large number of bladder cancer cases among workers attending GPs’ surgeries, he contacted Dr Catto who agreed to lead the investigation.

Sources: Yorkshire Cancer Research, <i>The Sheffield Star,</i> Risks