Increased lung cancer risks among hairdressers were observed in large registry-based cohort studies from Scandinavia, but these studies could not adjust for smoking. Our objective was to evaluate the lung cancer risk among hairdressers while adjusting for smoking and other confounders in a pooled database of 16 case-control studies conducted in Europe, Canada, China, and New Zealand between 1985 and 2010 (the Pooled Analysis of Case-Control Studies on the Joint Effects of Occupational Carcinogens in the Development of Lung Cancer). Lifetime occupational and smoking information was collected through interviews with 19,369 cases of lung cancer and 23,674 matched population or hospital controls. Overall, 170 cases and 167 controls had ever worked as hairdresser or barber. The odds ratios for lung cancer in women were 1.65 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.16, 2.35) without adjustment for smoking and 1.12 (95% CI: 0.75, 1.68) with adjustment for smoking; however, women employed before 1954 also experienced an increased lung cancer risk after adjustment for smoking (odds ratio = 2.66, 95% CI: 1.09, 6.47). The odds ratios in male hairdressers/barbers were generally not elevated, except for an increased odds ratio for adenocarcinoma in long-term barbers (odds ratio = 2.20, 95% CI: 1.02, 4.77). Our results suggest that the increased lung cancer risks among hairdressers are due to their smoking behavior; single elevated risk estimates should be interpreted with caution and need replication in other studies.
Keywords: case-control studies; hair bleaching agents; hair color; lung neoplasms; occupational exposure.