Objectives Early occupational exposure to asbestos has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of pleural mesothelioma (PM), which suggests that the timing of exposure might play a role in the dose–response relationship. However, none studies has evaluated the relative impact of increasing the annual intensity of occupational exposure to asbestos at each time of the whole exposure history. Yet such evaluation would allow the comparison of the risks of PM associated with different longitudinal profiles of occupational exposure to asbestos. Our objective was to estimate the time-dependent relative impact of asbestos exposure intensity over the whole occupational history and to compare the resulting estimated risks of PM associated with different profiles of exposure, using data from a large French case–control study.
Methods This study included 1196 male cases recruited in 1987–2006 and 2369 matched controls on birth year. Occupational exposure to asbestos was assessed using a job exposure matrix and represented in logistic regression models using a flexible weighted cumulative index of exposure.
Results Due to much stronger weights of early doses of asbestos exposure, subjects who accumulated 20 fibres/mL over their entire job history with high doses during the first years and low doses thereafter were at higher risk of PM than those who accumulated most of the doses later (OR=2.37 (95% CI 2.01 to 2.87)).
Conclusion This study provides new insights on the dose-time-response relationship between occupational asbestos and PM and illustrates the importance of considering timing of exposure in its association with cancer risk.
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Contributors AL performed literature review, drafted the first version of this manuscript and co-supervised all aspects of this manuscript.
EL performed all statistical analyses presented in the manuscript and contributed to the drafting of the manuscript.
EG performed preliminary statistical analyses.
MPS contributed to the implementation of statistical methods and interpretation of results.
AGS supervised data collection within the French National Mesothelioma Surveillance Program.
KL supervised all aspects of this manuscript.
All co-authors participated in the editing and correction of the final text.
Funding The French National Research Program for Environmental and Occupational health of Anses with support of the cancer TMOI of the French National Alliance for Life and Health Sciences (AVIESAN) – 2013/1/177.
Competing interests None declared.
Ethics approval French Data Protection Authority.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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