Introduction Globally, brain cancer is responsible for an estimated 189 000 deaths annually and is also associated with substantial morbidity and cost. Prevention of brain cancer is particularly important since treatment is often ineffective; however, little is known regarding the aetiology of this disease. Metals and metalloids are potential carcinogens to which millions of workers worldwide are exposed daily. They may accumulate in the brain and thus contribute to brain cancer development.
Methodology The INTEROCC study is a multi-centre case-control study on the association between occupational carcinogens and brain cancer, which included 2054 glioma cases, 1924 meningioma cases, and 5601 controls aged ≥18 years old. Lifetime occupational exposure to mercury, lead, cadmium, zinc, chromium, iron, nickel, calcium, silicon, and welding fumes was estimated using lifetime occupational histories and the Canadian Job-Exposure Matrix (CANJEM). For each agent, a binary never/ever exposure variable was created, where ever exposed was defined as having ever held an occupation for ≥1 year with a probability of exposure of ≥25%. Analyses were conducted for glioma and meningioma risk separately. Multivariate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for the associations between ever exposure to the selected occupational agents and risk were estimated using conditional logistic regression by combining the data from all study centres, conditioning on study centre, sex, and age (5-year group), and adjusting for covariates.
Results We observed no evidence of associations between ever occupational exposure to metals and metalloids and glioma. Ever occupational exposure to cadmium, zinc, chromium, nickel and silicon were positively associated with meningioma, with ORs ranging from 1.26 to 1.52, which were statistically significant for zinc, nickel, and silicon. All remaining associations were near the null value.
Conclusion Occupational exposure to some of the selected agents was positively associated with meningioma, but not glioma.
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