Objectives: While several monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are classified as definite or possible carcinogens to humans, little data exist on their role in prostate cancer (PCa). We examined occupational exposure to benzene, toluene, xylene (BTX) and styrene and PCa risk in a population-based case-control study in Montreal, Canada.
Methods: Cases aged ≤75 years diagnosed with PCa in 2005-2009 (n=1920) and population controls frequency-matched on age (n=1989) provided detailed work histories. Experts evaluated the certainty, frequency and concentration of exposure to monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in each job lasting ≥2 years. Logistic regression estimated OR and 95% CIs for PCa risk, adjusting for potential confounders.
Results: Exposures to BTX were highly intercorrelated, except for durations of exposure at substantial levels. Ever exposure to any BTX was associated with overall PCa (OR 1.27, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.53), while the OR for styrene was 1.19. However, increases in risk were largely confined to low-grade tumours, with ORs of 1.33 (95%CI 1.08 to 1.64) and 1.41 (95% CI 0.85 to 2.31) for ever exposure to any BTX and styrene, respectively, and a duration response pattern for any BTX. Risks for low-grade tumours were elevated among men exposed ≥25 years at substantial levels of benzene (OR 2.32) and styrene (OR 2.44). Some cumulative exposure categories showed increased risks but without clear trends.
Conclusion: Exposure to any BTX was associated with higher risks of overall PCa. Prolonged exposures at the substantial level to benzene and styrene increased risks of low-grade tumours. These novel findings were independent from PCa screening.
Keywords: benzene; prostate cancer; styrene; toluene; xylene.
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