Occupational exposure to lead compounds and risk of cancer among men: a population-based case-control study

Am J Epidemiol. 2007 Nov 1;166(9):1005-14. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwm183. Epub 2007 Aug 9.


The International Agency for Research on Cancer recently classified inorganic lead as a probable carcinogen, while organic lead remained unclassifiable. Uncertainty persists because of limited epidemiologic evidence. The authors addressed the relation between occupational exposure to lead and the risk of 11 types of cancer among men in a case-control study conducted in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in the 1980s. Incident cases (n = 3,730) and general population controls (n = 533) were interviewed to elicit information on job history and potential confounders. Expert chemists translated each job into a list of substances to which the subject had potentially been exposed. Exposure to lead was classified into three categories: organic lead (3% of subjects ever exposed), inorganic lead (17%), and lead in gasoline emissions (39%). Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were estimated by logistic regression using two control groups: general population controls and cancer controls. Stomach cancer was associated with organic lead when the authors used population controls (odds ratio (OR) = 3.0, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.2, 7.3) and cancer controls (OR = 2.0, 95% CI: 1.1, 3.8) and with substantial exposure to lead in gasoline emissions when they used cancer controls (OR = 2.9, 95% CI: 1.4, 5.9). There was no association with inorganic lead and little evidence for associations with other cancer types.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Data Collection
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lead / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Quebec / epidemiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Lead