Cancer incidence in Holocaust male survivors—An Israeli cohort study

Lital Keinan-Boker, Uri Goldbourt

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Previous studies, often using proxy exposure assessment and not controlling for individual risk factors, suggested higher cancer risk in Holocaust survivors. We have used individual-level data from a male cohort of Israeli civil servants recruited in 1963 to investigate cancer incidence in Holocaust survivors, controlling for potential confounders. The analysis included 4,669 Europe-born subjects; 689 exposed = E (immigrated to Israel after 1939 and reported of being in Nazi camps during World War II); 2,307 potentially exposed = PE (immigrated to Israel after 1939 and reported of not being in Nazi camps); and 1,673 non-exposed = NE (immigrated to Israel prior to 1939). Vital status and cancer incidence in the cohort were determined based on national registries. Socioeconomic level, health behaviors and cancer incidence were compared between the groups and Cox proportional hazards regression models adjusting for potential confounders assessed hazard risk ratios for cancer by exposure status. All-cause mortality was studied as a competing risk. In total, 241, 682, and 522 cancer cases were diagnosed in the E, PE, and NE, respectively. Compared with the NE, all-site cancer incidence was higher in the E (HR = 1.13, 95%CI 0.97–1.32) but not in the PE. All-cause mortality competed with all-site invasive cancer incidence in the E group (HR = 1.18, 95%CI 1.02–1.38). Colorectal and lung cancer seemed to be positively though non-significantly associated with the exposure while prostate cancer was not. Male Holocaust survivors may be at a weakly increased risk for all-site, colorectal and lung cancer. The role of age at exposure and residual confounding should be further investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2426-2435
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 UICC


  • Holocaust
  • Israel
  • cancer incidence
  • cohort
  • males

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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