Several epidemiologic studies have indicated an increased risk of lung cancer among welders. We used the SYNERGY project database to assess welding as a risk factor for developing lung cancer. The database includes data on 15,483 male lung cancer cases and 18,388 male controls from 16 studies in Europe, Canada, China, and New Zealand conducted between 1985 and 2010. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals between regular or occasional welding and lung cancer were estimated, with adjustment for smoking, age, study center, and employment in other occupations associated with lung cancer risk. Overall, 568 cases and 427 controls had ever worked as welders and had an odds ratio of developing lung cancer of 1.44 (95% confidence interval: 1.25, 1.67) with the odds ratio increasing for longer duration of welding. In never and light smokers, the odds ratio was 1.96 (95% confidence interval: 1.37, 2.79). The odds ratios were somewhat higher for squamous and small cell lung cancers than for adenocarcinoma. Another 1,994 cases and 1,930 controls had ever worked in occupations with occasional welding. Work in any of these occupations was associated with some elevation of risk, though not as much as observed in regular welders. Our findings lend further support to the hypothesis that welding is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer.
Keywords: case-control studies; lung cancer; occupational exposure; welding.