Several recent studies have suggested that a relation may exist between exposure to occupational organic solvents and diseases of the kidney--particularly malignancy and glomerulonephritis. Two case referent studies were undertaken in the West Midlands to investigate these possibilities. In the case of renal cancer 54 live cases of biopsy proved adenocarcinoma of the kidney were compared with an equal number of community based healthy referents matched for age, sex, place of residence, and socioeconomic and ethnic grouping. For glomerulonephritis, 50 biopsy proved cases were matched in the same manner with 50 referents. Fourteen other patients were also reviewed who, on biopsy, proved not to have glomerulonephritis. For both sets of cases and their referents each individual was interviewed and a detailed account obtained of medical history and environmental exposures. Exposure to solvents was assessed independently and "blind" in a semiquantitative way by an experienced occupational hygienist. Past exposure was estimated for 10 different solvent types and 17 material types. No relation was found between exposure to solvents and renal cancer or glomerulonephritis. In the case of renal cancer the numbers studied only precluded a fourfold excess risk. For glomerulonephritis, the study, although methodologically superior to most other published studies and of similar size, was of similar power to the renal cancer investigation.
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