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Occupational exposure to asbestos and man-made vitreous fibres and risk of lung cancer: a multicentre case-control study in Europe
  1. Rafael Carel1,2,
  2. Ann C Olsson1,3,
  3. David Zaridze4,
  4. Neonila Szeszenia-Dabrowska5,
  5. Peter Rudnai6,
  6. Jolanta Lissowska7,
  7. Eleonora Fabianova8,
  8. Adrian Cassidy9,
  9. Dana Mates10,
  10. Vladimir Bencko11,
  11. Lenka Foretova12,
  12. Vladimir Janout13,
  13. Joelle Fevotte14,
  14. Tony Fletcher15,
  15. Andrea ’t Mannetje1,16,
  16. Paul Brennan1,
  17. Paolo Boffetta1
  1. 1International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France
  2. 2School of Public Health, The University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel
  3. 3Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  4. 4Institute of Carcinogenesis, Cancer Research Center, Moscow, Russia
  5. 5Department of Epidemiology, Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Lodz, Poland
  6. 6National Institute of Environmental Health, Budapest, Hungary
  7. 7Cancer Center and Maria Sklodowska-Curie Institute of Oncology, Warsaw, Poland
  8. 8Department of Occupational Health, Specialized State Health Institute, Banska Bystrica, Slovakia
  9. 9Roy Castle Lung Cancer Research Programme, University of Liverpool Cancer Research Centre, University of Liverpool, UK
  10. 10Institute of Hygiene, Public Health, Health Services and Management, Bucharest, Romania
  11. 11Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Charles University, First Faculty of Medicine, Prague, Czech Republic
  12. 12Department of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics, Masaryk Memorial Cancer Institute, Brno, Czech Republic
  13. 13Department of Preventive Medicine, Palacky University Faculty of Medicine, Olomouc, Czech Republic
  14. 14Institut Universitaire de Médecine du Travail, Université Claude Bernard, Lyon, France
  15. 15Public and Environmental Health Research Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  16. 16Centre for Public Health Research, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr P Boffetta
 Gene-Environment Epidemiology Group, International Agency for Research on Cancer, 150 cours Albert Thomas, 69008 Lyon, France; boffetta{at}


Objectives: To investigate the contribution of occupational exposure to asbestos and man-made vitreous fibres (MMVF) to lung cancer in high-risk populations in Europe.

Methods: A multicentre case-control study was conducted in six Central and Eastern European countries and the UK, during the period 1998–2002. Comprehensive occupational and sociodemographic information was collected from 2205 newly diagnosed male lung cancer cases and 2305 frequency matched controls. Odds ratios (OR) of lung cancer were calculated after adjusting for other relevant occupational exposures and tobacco smoking.

Results: The OR for asbestos exposure was 0.92 (95% CI 0.73 to 1.15) in Central and Eastern Europe and 1.85 (95% CI 1.07 to 3.21) in the UK. Similar ORs were found for exposure to amphibole asbestos. The OR for MMVF exposure was 1.23 (95% CI 0.88 to 1.71) with no evidence of heterogeneity by country. No synergistic effect either between asbestos and MMVF or between any of them and smoking was found.

Conclusion: In this large community-based study occupational exposure to asbestos and MMVF does not appear to contribute to the lung cancer burden in men in Central and Eastern Europe. In contrast, in the UK the authors found an increased risk of lung cancer following exposure to asbestos. Differences in fibre type and circumstances of exposure may explain these results.

  • IARC, International Agency for Research on Cancer
  • ISCO, International Standard Classification of Occupations
  • MMVF, man-made vitreous fibres
  • PAHs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • SIR, standardised incidence ratios

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  • Published Online First 19 October 2006

  • Competing interests: None.