Styrene is widely used in industrial settings, leading to important occupational exposure. Currently it is classified by IARC as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” based on limited evidence of an association with lymphohaematopoietic cancers. Several recent studies suggest increased risk of lung cancer may be associated with exposure to styrene. We conducted a systematic search and a meta-analysis of epidemiologic studies of exposure to styrene and incidence or mortality of lung cancer. Of 167 papers retrieved, 50 were found to provide pertinent data after screening the abstracts; 42 of these were occupational cohort studies conducted in 3 main work settings: chemical production, reinforced plastics manufacturing, and styrene-butadiene rubber production. There was significant overlap in the populations among published papers, which reported data from 7 separate cohorts and one pooled international cohort, some parts of which were also published separately. Meta-analysis showed an excess risk of lung cancer among workers ever exposed to styrene (RR 1.14, 95% CI 1.04–1.24, I263%). The association was stronger when the analysis was limited to the reinforced plastics industry, where co-exposures are less important than in other industries (RR 1.20, 95% CI 1.10–1.31, I272%). Meta-analysis of exposure-response relations in the subset of studies that reported quantitative or categorical exposure data are ongoing and will be reported.
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