ABC Women’s Health Study

A study of breast cancer risk among ABC female employees in Australia

In May 2005, an apparent cluster of breast cancer cases was suspected among female employees at the Toowong Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) site in Brisbane, QLD.

Two subsequent investigations in 2006 found a significantly higher than expected number of breast cancer cases among female employees based at the studio.   The ABC management then commissioned Cancer Council NSW – an independent, non-Government organisation – to undertake a national study to investigate if this increased risk of breast cancer was also present in other studios across Australia.

The aim of the study was to determine if there was a higher rate of breast cancer among female ABC employees nationally, compared to the wider Australian population.

Our research showed that ABC employees (outside of QLD) had the same breast cancer risk as the rest of the Australian population. This shows that the apparent cancer cluster found in Toowong was not a widespread problem faced by other ABC studios.

Study Methodology

Cancer Council researchers investigated how long employees worked at the ABC, and at which locations they were based during the study period (1994 to 2005).   They also identified as far as possible every case of breast cancer which occurred during this period.   The next step involved comparing breast cancer rates among ABC employees against the rate of the wider Australian population, using cancer registry records.

The rigorous process to identify these women used ABC Human Resources records and State and Territory cancer registry records, in accordance with accepted privacy and ethics guidelines, and with the assistance of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The researchers looked at national figures both including and excluding QLD to determine if the breast cancer rates differed from the national rates.

Findings

They found that ABC employees (outside of QLD) had the same breast cancer risk as the rest of the Australian population. So the apparent cancer cluster found in Toowong was not a widespread problem faced by other ABC studios.

Including QLD, a total of 48 ABC employees nationally were found to have breast cancer during the study period, compared to an expected figure of 42.8 women nationally.

When QLD was taken out of the study, however, there were 40 breast cancer cases compared to an expected number of 39.5, which is in line with the national average of 1 in 11 women being diagnosed with breast cancer.

In summary, the main findings are:

  • Forty eight women were found to have breast cancer among 5969 ABC female staff between 1994 and 2005.
  • This reconfirms a significantly higher rate of breast cancer existed among ABC employees in Queensland; consistent with the findings in the earlier report
  • No higher than expected risk of breast cancer was found in ABC employees across the Australian States and Territories as a whole, compared to state incidence statistics
  • No increased rate of breast cancer was observed among staff diagnosed in the rest of the country (excluding Queensland), with 40 cases found among ABC employees, versus an expected 39.5 cases
  • Predictably, the breast cancer rate among ABC female employees was slightly but not significantly increased when the Queensland data was included in the national ABC figures (48 cases versus 42.8 expected)
  • We therefore expect women working at ABC to have a similar risk of breast cancer to all Australian women.

More information

ABC Women’s Health Study FAQs [ PDF, 20 KB]

ABC Women’s Health Study report [ PDF, 158 KB]

ABC Women’s Health Study – glossary [ PDF, 62 KB]

If you would like more information on the study please contact:
A/Prof Freddy Sitas at freddys@nswcc.org.au

If you have any questions or need more information on cancer in general, please contact:
Helpline 13 11 20

If you are a journalist, please contact:
Karen Kalpage – 0411 408 647 karenk@nswcc.org.au (working Mon, Tues, Wed)
Luke Alexander – 0413 886 578 lukea@nswcc.org.au

Study personnel

Investigators

Associate Professor Freddy Sitas
Cancer Research Division, Cancer Council NSW
Professor Dianne O’Connell
Cancer Research Division, Cancer Council NSW

Independent Review and Scientific Investigation Panel

Professor Bruce Armstrong (Chair)
The University of Sydney
Dr Norman Swan
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Professor Malcolm Sim
Monash Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health
Associate Professor Joanne Aitken
Cancer Council Queensland

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059

Kobo

To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630