Scleroderma and solvent exposure among women

Am J Epidemiol. 2003 Mar 15;157(6):493-500. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwf223.


Exposure to solvents has been reported to increase the risk of scleroderma. The authors investigated the relation between exposures to solvents in occupational and hobby settings and the development of scleroderma among women in a case-control study with population-based controls in Michigan (1980-1991) and Ohio (1980-1992). A total of 660 cases and 2,227 frequency-matched controls were interviewed by telephone. Diagnoses of scleroderma were verified by medical records review. Paint thinners and removers were significantly associated with scleroderma both by self-report (odds ratio (OR) = 1.9, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.4, 2.6) and after expert review (OR = 2.0, 95% CI: 1.5, 2.6). Other petroleum distillates (gasoline and mineral spirits) were not significantly associated with scleroderma after controlling for other correlated exposures in multivariable analyses. Trichloroethylene was associated with scleroderma both by self-report (OR = 2.0, 95% CI: 0.8, 4.8) and after expert review (OR = 1.9, 95% CI: 0.6, 6.6), but not significantly. Analyses by duration of exposure found that risk increased with the duration of use of any of the solvents (OR = 1.01/year of exposure, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.02), but there was no evidence of increasing risk with increasing duration of exposure for any specific solvent studied. In summary, exposures to paint thinners and removers were associated with scleroderma in women but showed no evidence of increasing risk with increasing duration. Exposures to other specific chlorinated and nonchlorinated hydrocarbon solvents were not clearly associated with scleroderma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Hobbies*
  • Humans
  • Michigan / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Ohio / epidemiology
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / chemically induced*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / epidemiology
  • Solvents / adverse effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Solvents