Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Selected Cancers in Petroleum Refinery Workers

J Occup Environ Med. 2018 Jul;60(7):e329-e342. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001336.


Objective: We studied the risk of 11 cancers of a priori interest in petroleum refinery workers.

Methods: Iterative searches identified 36 studies for the 11 cancer sites. Statistical heterogeneity and publication bias were assessed to enhance interpretation of meta-relative risks.

Results: Statistical heterogeneity was marked for mesothelioma, but was largely due to study quality. Higher quality studies showed a meta-relative risk (RR) of 3.22, (95% prediction interval 1.45 to 7.23). Melanoma (meta-RR = 1.23) and acute lymphoid leukemia (meta-RR = 1.51), showed results consistent with higher risk, but both were driven by one or two studies. Eight other cancer outcomes showed summary meta-RR's consistent with unity.

Conclusions: Most cancer outcomes are consistent with background risk in refinery workers. This work has clarified an excess mesothelioma risk, conditional on study quality stratification. Continued surveillance is warranted for melanoma and ALL.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Melanoma / epidemiology
  • Mesothelioma / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Oil and Gas Industry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / epidemiology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology