A meta-analysis of painting exposure and cancer mortality

Cancer Detect Prev. 1998;22(6):533-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1525-1500.1998.00a47.x.


To assess risks of cancer mortality among workers exposed to paints, published papers referring to painters and mortality with standardized mortality ratios (SMR) were meta-analyzed in fixed and random effect models. The SMR for all sites of cancer was significantly raised (111.4; 95% CI: 105.8-117.4). The highest risks of cancer death were from leukemia (187; 95% CI: 114.5-306.7) and from liver cancer (143.6; 95% CI: 117.6-175.4). The SMRs for esophagus and stomach cancer were 132.7 (95% CI: 112.1-157.2) and 120.3 (95% CI: 111.3-130.0), respectively. The risks of bladder cancer (130.4; 95% CI: 113.8-149.5) and lung cancer (129.1; 95% CI: 119.2-139.8) were also raised. The findings provide evidence of an association between work as a painter and risk of cancer, although the confounding effects of smoking and alcohol cannot be entirely excluded, especially with respect to liver cancer since deaths from cirrhosis were also increased. The excess deaths from leukemia could have been from exposure to benzene mixed with other organic solvents, while that from lung cancer may be from exposure to particles containing lead chromate and to asbestos in the paint trade. The high risks of cirrhosis and liver cancer need to be examined further as to possible interactions between organic solvents and alcohol.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Paint / adverse effects*
  • Risk Assessment