A meta-analysis of bladder cancer and diesel exhaust exposure

Epidemiology. 2001 Jan;12(1):125-30. doi: 10.1097/00001648-200101000-00021.


The aim of this study is to review and summarize the available epidemiologic studies of bladder cancer and occupational exposure to diesel exhaust. We retrieved relevant studies and abstracted their characteristics and results. We assessed the heterogeneity of the results to decide whether to perform a fixed-effects model meta-analysis. We identified 35 relevant studies. No overall meta-analysis was performed because of heterogeneity in results. Results of railroad workers (N = 14) suggested an increased occurrence of bladder cancer, but we did not conduct a meta-analysis. The summary relative risk (RR) among truck drivers was 1.17 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.06-1.29, 15 studies) and that among bus drivers was 1.33 (95% CI = 1.22-1.45, 10 studies). Ten studies considered diesel exhaust exposure based on a job exposure matrix or a similar approach; the summary RR for these studies was 1.13 (95% CI = 1.00-1.27). A positive dose-response relation was suggested by 10 of the 12 studies that provided relevant information. The summary RR for high diesel exposure was 1.44 (95% CI = 1.18-1.76). There was some evidence of publication bias, however, with a lack of small studies with null or negative results. Our review suggests that exposure to diesel exhaust may increase the occurrence of bladder cancer, but the effects of misclassification, publication bias, and confounding cannot be fully taken into account.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Vehicle Emissions / adverse effects*


  • Vehicle Emissions