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Letter
Response to: 'Dose–time–response association between occupational asbestos exposure and pleural mesothelioma' by Lacourt et al
  1. Paolo Boffetta1,
  2. Enrico Pira2,
  3. Canzio Romano2,
  4. Francesco Saverio Violante3,
  5. Andrea Farioli3,
  6. Carlo Zocchetti4,
  7. Carlo La Vecchia5
  1. 1Tisch Cancer Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, USA
  2. 2Department of Public Health and Pediatric Sciences, University of Turin, Turin, Italy
  3. 3Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences (DIMEC), Bologna University, Bologna, Italy
  4. 4Ricerche e Studi in Sanità e Salute (ReSiSS), Gallarate, Varese, Italy
  5. 5Department of Clinical Sciences and Community Health, Milan University, Milan, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Paolo Boffetta; paolo.boffetta{at}gmail.com

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The study by Lacourt reported in a recent issue of Occup Environ Med1 does not satisfy two fundamental requirements of the design and conduct of a case–control study: these limitations invalidate its results and those of other reports based on the same dataset.2

First, all cases and controls should be sampled from the same population–time experience (‘study-base’).3 An alternative, commonly used way to express this concept is that controls are subjects (or a random sample of theirs) who would have been selected as cases, had they developed the disease of interest.

Cases in the study by Lacourt et al were men who were diagnosed with mesothelioma ‘either in five French regions between January 1987 and December 1993 or in 22 French districts between January 1998 and December 2006’.1 The first series of cases was collected in a community-based case–control study,4 and the second series was identified within a mesothelioma surveillance programme. …

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