Cancer risk among firefighters: a review and meta-analysis of 32 studies

J Occup Environ Med. 2006 Nov;48(11):1189-202. doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000246229.68697.90.


Objective: The objective of this study was to review 32 studies on firefighters and to quantitatively and qualitatively determine the cancer risk using a meta-analysis.

Methods: A comprehensive search of computerized databases and bibliographies from identified articles was performed. Three criteria used to assess the probable, possible, or unlikely risk for 21 cancers included pattern of meta-relative risks, study type, and heterogeneity testing.

Results: The findings indicated that firefighters had a probable cancer risk for multiple myeloma with a summary risk estimate (SRE) of 1.53 and 95% confidence interval (CI) of 1.21-1.94, non-Hodgkin lymphoma (SRE = 1.51, 95% CI = 1.31-1.73), and prostate (SRE = 1.28; 95% CI = 1.15-1.43). Testicular cancer was upgraded to probable because it had the highest summary risk estimate (SRE = 2.02; 95% CI = 1.30-3.13). Eight additional cancers were listed as having a "possible" association with firefighting.

Conclusions: Our results confirm previous findings of an elevated metarelative risk for multiple myeloma among firefighters. In addition, a probable association with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, prostate, and testicular cancer was demonstrated.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Fires*
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk