Objectives: To investigate the contribution of occupational exposure to asbestos and man-made vitreous fibres (MMVF) to lung cancer in high-risk populations in Europe.
Methods: A multicentre case-control study was conducted in six Central and Eastern European countries and the UK, during the period 1998-2002. Comprehensive occupational and sociodemographic information was collected from 2205 newly diagnosed male lung cancer cases and 2305 frequency matched controls. Odds ratios (OR) of lung cancer were calculated after adjusting for other relevant occupational exposures and tobacco smoking.
Results: The OR for asbestos exposure was 0.92 (95% CI 0.73 to 1.15) in Central and Eastern Europe and 1.85 (95% CI 1.07 to 3.21) in the UK. Similar ORs were found for exposure to amphibole asbestos. The OR for MMVF exposure was 1.23 (95% CI 0.88 to 1.71) with no evidence of heterogeneity by country. No synergistic effect either between asbestos and MMVF or between any of them and smoking was found.
Conclusion: In this large community-based study occupational exposure to asbestos and MMVF does not appear to contribute to the lung cancer burden in men in Central and Eastern Europe. In contrast, in the UK the authors found an increased risk of lung cancer following exposure to asbestos. Differences in fibre type and circumstances of exposure may explain these results.