Objectives: This study is an update, over the period 1954-2004, of a previous meta-analysis completed in 1994. It was aimed at assessing lung cancer risk among welders, while addressing heterogeneity, publication bias, and confounding issues.
Methods: Combined relative risks (CRR) and their variances were calculated using fixed and random effects models. Heterogeneity was tested using the Q statistic. The publication bias was estimated using funnel plots, and Egger's regression and partially controlled by excluding studies with positive reporting bias.
Results: The literature provided 60 studies eligible for the meta-analysis. No heterogeneity was observed. The fixed effect CRR for all of the welders and all of the studies was 1.26 (95% CI 1.20-1.32) after partial control of publication bias. No difference was observed according to welding activities. Smoking did not appear to be a marked confounder in the relationship between lung cancer and welding, but the effect of asbestos could not be assessed.
Conclusions: The meta-analysis showed a 26% excess of lung cancer for welders without any difference according to welding activities.