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Occupational exposures and pancreatic cancer: a meta-analysis


OBJECTIVES Consolidation of epidemiological data on pancreatic cancer and worksite exposures.

METHODS Publications during 1969–98 were surveyed. Studies without verified exposures were excluded. Meta-analyses were conducted on data from 92 studies covering 161 populations, with results for 23 agents or groups of agents. With a standard format, five epidemiologists extracted risk estimates and variables of the structure and quality of each study. The extracted data were centrally checked. Random meta-models were applied.

RESULTS Based on 20 populations, exposure to chlorinated hydrocarbon (CHC) solvents and related compounds was associated with a meta-risk ratio (MRR) of 1.4 (95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.0 to 1.8). Nickel and nickel compounds were considered in four populations (1.9; 1.2 to 3.2). Excesses were found also for chromium and chromium compounds (1.4; 0.9 to 2.3), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (1.5; 0.9 to 2.5), organochlorine insecticides (1.5; 0.6 to 3.7), silica dust (1.4; 0.9 to 2.0), and aliphatic and alicyclic hydrocarbon solvents (1.3; 0.8 to 2.8). Evidence on pancreatic carcinogenicity was weak or non-positive for the following agents: acrylonitrile (1.1; 0.0 to 6.2); arsenic (1.0; 0.6 to 1.5); asbestos (1.1; 0.9 to 1.5); diesel engine exhaust (1.0; 0.9 to 1.3); electromagnetic fields (1.1; 0.8 to 1.4); formaldehyde (0.8; 0.5 to 1.0); flour dust (1.1; 0.3 to 3.2); cadmium and cadmium compounds (0.7; 0.4 to 1.4); gasoline (1.0; 0.8 to 1.2); herbicides (1.0; 0.8 to 1.3); iron and iron compounds (1.3; 0.7 to 2.5); lead and lead compounds (1.1; 0.8 to 1.5); man-made vitreous fibres (1.0; 0.6 to 1.6); oil mist (0.9; 0.8 to 1.0); and wood dust (1.1; 0.9 to 2.5). The occupational aetiological fraction of pancreatic cancer was estimated at 12%. In a subpopulation exposed to CHC solvents and related compounds, it was 29%; to chromium and chromium compounds, 23%; to nickel and nickel compounds, 47%; to insecticides, 33%; and to PAHs, 33%.

CONCLUSION Occupational exposures may increase risk of pancreatic cancer. High quality studies are called for on interactions between occupational, environmental, and lifestyle factors as well as interactions between genes and the environment.

  • pancreatic cancer
  • occupational exposure
  • meta-analysis

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