Background: Active smoking is a major risk factor for urothelial bladder cancer (UBC). However, the evidence that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) either in childhood or adult life is also associated with UBC risk is ambiguous. With this meta-analysis, we aim to summarise how exposure to ETS is associated with UBC risk. Methods: In total, 11 studies (3 cohort studies, 8 case-control studies) were included in this meta-analysis and summary odds ratios (SORs) for UBC risk were calculated for never smokers who were exposed to ETS during childhood at home, during adulthood at home, or during adulthood in a work environment compared to never smokers who were never exposed to ETS. Sensitivity analyses were conducted to test the robustness of findings. Results: Never smokers exposed to ETS during childhood (SOR = 1.04, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.82-1.26), during adulthood at work (SOR = 0.98, 95% CI = 0.78-1.18) or at home (SOR = 0.99, 95% CI = 0.83-1.15) were at a similar risk of UBC compared to never smokers who were never exposed to ETS. Results for males and females were similar. Also, when pooling all estimates during both childhood and adulthood, no effect was observed (SOR = 1.00, 95% CI = 0.89-1.10). Conclusions: Although measurement of exposure to ETS was imprecise, there does not seem to be an association between UBC risk and exposure to ETS during childhood or adulthood. However, the current body of evidence mostly overlooks the duration and intensity of exposure to ETS.
Keywords: bladder cancer; exposure to environmental tobacco smoke; lifetime exposure; meta-analysis.