Occupational lung cancers represent a major health burden due to their increasing prevalence and poor long-term outcomes. While wood dust is a confirmed human carcinogen, its association with lung cancer remains unclear due to inconsistent findings in the literature. We aimed to clarify this association using meta-analysis. We performed a search of 10 databases to identify studies published until June 2014. We assessed the lung cancer risk associated with wood dust exposure as the primary outcome and with wood dust-related occupations as a secondary outcome. Random-effects models were used to pool summary risk estimates. 85 publications were included in the meta-analysis. A significantly increased risk for developing lung cancer was observed among studies that directly assessed wood dust exposure (RR 1.21, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.39, n=33) and that assessed wood dust-related occupations (RR 1.15, 95% CI 1.07 to 1.23, n=59). In contrast, a reduced risk for lung cancer was observed among wood dust (RR 0.63, 95% CI 0.39 to 0.99, n=5) and occupation (RR 0.96, 95% CI 0.95 to 0.98, n=1) studies originating in Nordic countries, where softwood dust is the primary exposure. These results were independent of the presence of adjustment for smoking and exposure classification methods. Only minor differences in risk between the histological subtypes were identified. This meta-analysis provides strong evidence for an association between wood dust and lung cancer, which is critically influenced by the geographic region of the study. The reasons for this region-specific effect estimates remain to be clarified, but may suggest a differential effect for hardwood and softwood dusts.
Keywords: Meta-analysis < Methodology, speciality; Wood dust < Materials, exposures and occupational.
Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://www.bmj.com/company/products-services/rights-and-licensing/