Research on occupational safety and health in epidemiological cohort studies: developing an occupational health agenda for the "National Cohort Study" and addressing recent research questions in the frame of the ongoing Heinz Nixdorf Recall study

Project No. FF-FP 0295


completed 07/2015


Implementation of methods and research questions regarding occupational health into an existing cohort study with the help of existing datasets, scanned for information about occupation. Reanalyzation of biomaterials (e.g. to quantify exposure to manganese) and conduction of additional examinations with the study participants. Core research questions concern shift work, metal exposures, passive smoking and long working hours. Experiences made and methods tested during this process will also be used to develop a study protocol for the assessment of occupational exposures in the forthcoming "National Cohort Study".


  1. Preparation of data analyses and data collection; contracting; foundation of the study centre.
  2. Quality control, coding and operationalization of existing data on occupation and occupational hazards in the HNR Study.
  3. Reanalyzing of existing biomaterials (e.g. manganese at baseline)

The occupational history for 2,836 subjects was determined based on information provided by the social insurance registry. For 2,202 of these subjects occupational history could be either validated by the social security number or a specific linkage procedure.


Long working hours: For the first time long working hours and their influence on cardiovascular events were investigated in a sample of German employees. It was shown that long working hours were an independent risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.

Shift work: Regarding the influence of shift work on neoplasia, cardiovascular diseases and all-cause mortality, shift and night work showed strong associations to prostate cancer, but not to breast cancer. In addition, no influence of shift work on myocardial infarction, cardiac death and all-cause mortality could be observed.

Manganese and neurotoxicity: The influence of Manganese (Mn) neurotoxicity on olfactory sense, motor and cognitive performances was investigated. Analyses on olfactory sense and motor function included men – and especially former welders – with work-related Mn exposure. There was no significant correlation between Mn exposure and motor function or an impaired olfactory sense. No consistent relationships between cognitive performance and current or cumulative Mn exposure were shown. There were indications however, that some genotypes may be protective against Mn neurotoxicity in men and women.

Second hand smoke: The exposition to second hand smoke goes along with an increase in coronary artery calcification. Beside the self-reported second hand smoke cotinine in the subjects’ urine was measured and both parameters were compared.

Virology: 699 subjects were virologically examined. The results suggested that in healthy patients no nucleic acid of residual or persistent pathogens can be found. Whether these pathogens cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma could not be evaluated.

Biobank: This biobank is a valuable resource for the assessment of biomarker performance to diagnose diseases. This biobank will be the base for further analyses. Hence, studies for the marker candidates mesothelin, calretinin and other markers have been started yet.

Last Update:

7 Apr 2017


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Universitätsklinikum Essen der Universität Duisburg-Essen
  • Institut für Arbeitsmarkt und Berufsforschung der Bundesagentur für Arbeit
  • Institut für Prävention und Arbeitsmedizin (IPA)

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

questions beyond hazard-related issues


prevention, chemical working substances, work forms

Description, key words:

National Cohort Study, Heinz Nixdorf Recall study