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Exposures in painting-related occupations and risk of lung cancer among men: results from two case–control studies in Montreal
  1. Agnihotram V Ramanakumar1,4,
  2. Marie-Élise Parent1,2,3,
  3. Lesley Richardson1,
  4. Jack Siemiatycki1,2,3
  1. 1Centre de recherche du CHUM, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  2. 2INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier, Université du Québec, Laval, Québec, Canada
  3. 3School of Public Health, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  4. 4Division of Cancer Epidemiology, McGill University, Québec, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Jack Siemiatycki, Département de médecine sociale et préventive, Université de Montréal, 3875 Rue St. Urbain, Room 312, Montreal, Quebec H2W 1V1, Canada; j.siemiatycki{at}


Background Evidence that painters may be at risk for lung cancer comes mainly from analyses on job titles rather than on specific exposures found in the environments of painters.

Methods In the context of two large population-based case–control studies of lung cancer carried out in Montreal, we were able to assess possible relationships between lung cancer and the occupation of painter as well as exposure to paints, varnishes and stains. Interviews for study I were conducted in 1979–1986 (857 cases, 533 population controls, 1349 cancer controls) and interviews for study II were conducted in 1996–2001 (765 cases and 899 controls). Detailed lifetime job histories were elicited; a team of hygienists and chemists evaluated the evidence of exposure to many occupational substances including paint-related substances. The relative risk of lung cancer was estimated, adjusting for several potential confounders, including smoking, in a three-variable parameterisation.

Results In analyses pooling the two studies, painters had an OR of lung cancer of 1.3 (95% CI 0.9 to 2.2). Regarding exposures, ORs were: for wood varnishes and stains, 1.6 (95% CI 1.0 to 2.3); for wood and gypsum paints, 1.3 (95% CI 0.9 to 1.7); and for metal coatings, 1.1 (95% CI 0.8 to 1.6). Small numbers hampered evaluation of dose–response relationships.

Conclusions While our results cannot exclude chance or residual confounding by smoking or concomitant occupational exposures, they provide further evidence that some exposures in paint-related occupations, most notably wood varnishes and stains, increase the risk of lung cancer.

  • Lung cancer
  • paints
  • varnishes
  • stains
  • coatings
  • painter
  • case-control studies
  • Canada
  • occupational risks
  • chemical hazards
  • epidemiology
  • cancer
  • gender
  • environment
  • painters

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  • Funding This study was funded by a number of agencies, including the Fonds de recherche en santé du Québec, the Institut de recherche en santé et sécurité au travail du Québec, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and the Guzzo-Cancer Research Society Chair in Environment and Cancer.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by ethics committees at the Institut Armand-Frappier (University of Quebec), McGill University and each of the 18 hospitals in which cases were ascertained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.