Mesothelioma and lung cancer among motor vehicle mechanics: a meta-analysis

Ann Occup Hyg. 2004 Jun;48(4):309-26. doi: 10.1093/annhyg/meh022. Epub 2004 May 17.


We conducted a systematic review and analysis of the epidemiological literature that examines the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma among motor vehicle mechanics who may have been engaged in brake repair and, thus, were potentially exposed to asbestos. All relevant studies were classified into three tiers according to their quality. Tier III (lowest quality) studies were cited for completeness, but were not included in the meta-analysis. Meta relative risks (meta-RRs) were calculated for mesothelioma and lung cancer using both fixed and random effects models for Tiers I and II, separately, followed by stratified analyses based on study design or exposure characterization (garage workers versus brake workers) and, for lung cancer studies, based on adequate adjustment for smoking. The meta-analysis for Tier I (higher quality) and Tier II (lower quality) studies of mesothelioma yielded RR estimates of 0.92 (95% CI 0.55-1.56) and 0.81 (95% CI 0.52-1.28), respectively. Further stratification according to exposure characterization did not affect the results. The meta-analysis for lung cancer produced RR estimates of 1.07 (95% CI 0.88-1.31) for Tier I and 1.17 (95% CI 1.01-1.36) for Tier II. When the lung cancer analysis was limited to studies that used adequate control for smoking, the resulting RR estimate was 1.09 (95% CI 0.92-1.28). Based on these findings, we conclude that employment as a motor vehicle mechanic does not increase the risk of developing mesothelioma. Although some studies showed a small increase in risk of lung cancer among motor vehicle mechanics, the data on balance do not support a conclusion that lung cancer risk in this occupational group is related to asbestos exposure.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Asbestos / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Mesothelioma / epidemiology*
  • Mesothelioma / etiology
  • Motor Vehicles*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Research Design / standards
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects


  • Asbestos