Objectives Metalworking has been associated with bladder cancer risk in many studies. Metalworking fluids (MWFs) are suspected as the putative exposure, but epidemiologic data are limited. Based on state-of-the-art, quantitative exposure assessment, we examined MWF exposure and bladder cancer risk in the New England Bladder Cancer Study.
Method Male cases (n = 895) and population controls (n = 1031) provided occupational histories and information on use of each of three MWF types: (1) straight (mineral oil, additives), (2) soluble (mineral oil, water, additives), and (3) synthetic (water, organics, additives) or semi-synthetic (soluble/synthetic hybrid), in response to exposure-oriented modules administered during personal interviews. We estimated the probability, frequency, and intensity of exposure to each MWF type and, if probability exceeded 50%, cumulative exposure. Logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs), adjusting for smoking and other risk factors.
Results Risk was increased for men reporting use of straight MWFs (OR=1.7, 95% CI=1.1–2.8), with a significant trend with increasing cumulative exposure (p = 0.024). Use of soluble MWFs conferred a 50% elevated risk (95% CI=0.96–2.5). ORs were nonsignificantly elevated for synthetic MWFs, based on small numbers. Men who were never metalworkers, but held jobs with possible exposure to mineral oil, had a 40% increased risk (95% CI=1.1–1.8).
Conclusions In the most comprehensive assessment of MWF exposure in a bladder cancer case-control study, exposure to straight MWFs significantly increased bladder cancer risk, as did employment in non-metalworking jobs with possible mineral oil exposure. Our results strengthen prior evidence for mineral oil as a bladder carcinogen.
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