Exposures in painting related occupations and risk of selected cancers: results from a case-control study in Montreal

Am J Ind Med. 2008 Jun;51(6):419-27. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20564.


Background: Painters are considered to be at increased risk of lung cancer. The objective was to evaluate risk of several cancers, apart from lung, in painting-related professions. Most previous studies have focused on the job title rather than on exposures incurred.

Methods: A large population based case-control study was carried out during 1979-1986 in Montreal including several types of cancer and focusing on occupational exposures. Interviews elicited detailed lifetime job histories; those were evaluated by a team of industrial hygienists to assign exposure. The exposure checklist included three paint-related substances: metal coatings, wood varnishes and stains, and wood and gypsum paints. Seven types of cancer were analyzed (numbers interviewed): esophagus (97), stomach (248), colorectal (754), prostate (438), bladder (478), kidney (174) and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (215). For each cancer type, a pooled control group was constituted from 533 population controls and 533 cancer patients selected from other types of cancer. Odds ratios (ORs) were estimated between each of the paint-related agents and each of the seven cancer types, adjusting for several potential confounders, including smoking.

Results: The job title of "painters" was not associated with risk of any of the cancers under study. Most of the ORs between the three agents and the seven cancers were close to null. However, there was a tendency for ORs to be above 1.0 for subjects who had substantial exposure to metal coatings, with noteworthy associations for cancers of the esophagus (OR = 4.2; 95% CI: 1.1-17.0; n = 4), prostate (OR = 2.7; 95% CI: 1.0-7.7; n = 13), and bladder (OR = 1.7; 95% CI: 0.7-4.4; n = 13).

Conclusion: These results are compatible with an absence of risk among painting-related professions; they are also compatible with excess risk of certain cancers, especially among those exposed to metal coatings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Health*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Paint / toxicity*
  • Quebec / epidemiology
  • Risk
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires