Study Of Cancer At Pratt & Whitney Progresses

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Researchers are planning to release more information late Thursday afternoon from a massive, eight-year study of brain cancer deaths at jet engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.

A spokeswoman at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says the second of three phases in the study will be released. The last phase is set to be completed later this year.

University of Pittsburgh researchers will compare cancer rates among workers at Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of Hartford's United Technologies Corp., with the general population and determine if specific types of brain tumors are related to workplace factors.

Pratt commissioned the study, which is being overseen by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, in 2002 after complaints from families of workers who died from glioblastoma multiforme, a form of brain cancer. They documented more than three dozen such deaths among hundreds of thousands who have worked at Pratt since the early 1950s.

Concerns were first raised in 2000 by a health committee of representatives of Pratt and Whitney and the International Association of Machinists. The widows of two Pratt & Whitney workers were among the first to push for a comprehensive study.

The first phase of the study of nearly 224,000 current and former workers showed in September 2008 that cancer death rates at Pratt & Whitney were the same or lower than in Connecticut and the U.S., although principal researcher Gary Marsh called the initial findings "exploratory."