Background: Exposure to outdoor air pollution has been linked to lung cancer, and suspicion arose regarding bladder, kidney, and urinary tract cancer (urological cancers). However, most of evidence comes from occupational studies; therefore, little is known about the effect of exposure to air pollution on the risk of urological cancers in the general population.
Method: We systematically searched Medline, Scopus, and Web of Science for articles investigating the associations between long-term exposure to air pollution and the risk of urological cancer (incidence or mortality). We included articles using a specific air pollutant (PM10, PM2.5, …) or proxies (traffic, proximity index …). We assessed each study's quality with the Newcastle-Ottawa scale and rated the quality of the body of evidence for each pollutant-outcome with the GRADE approach. The different study methodologies regarding exposure or outcome prevented us to perform a meta-analysis.
Results: twenty articles (four case-control, nine cohort, and seven ecologic) met our inclusion criteria and were included in this review: eighteen reported bladder, six kidney, and two urinary tract. Modeling air pollutants was the most common exposure assessment method. Most of the included studies reported positive associations between air pollution and urological cancer risk. However, only a few reached statistical significance (e.g. for bladder cancer mortality, adjusted odds-ratio of 1.13 (1.03-1.23) for an increase of 4.4 μg.m-3 of PM2.5). Most studies inadequately addressed confounding, and cohort studies had an insufficient follow-up.
Discussion: Overall, studies suggested positive (even though mostly non-significant) associations between air pollution exposure and bladder cancer mortality and kidney cancer incidence. We need more studies with better confounding control and longer follow-ups.
Keywords: Air pollution; Cancer; Incidence; Mortality; Systematic review.
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