A new meta-analysis study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine reported that people who work with paint in their jobs seem to be at a 25% increased risk of bladder cancer.
An additional study that controlled for smoking status discovered a similar result, leading the researchers to conclude a casual relationship between paint exposure and bladder cancer. ”The robustness of the summary risk estimates after adjusting for tobacco use [suggests] that residual confounding by tobacco use is unlikely and that occupational exposure as a painter is independently associated with the risk of bladder cancer,” the researchers wrote.
Neela Guha, PhD, MPH commented that, “because several million people are employed as painters worldwide, even a modest increase in the relative risk is remarkable.”As a result, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) now classifies exposure to paint as “carcinogenic to humans.” The magnitude of the risk was greater with longer term paint exposure. In addition to painters; plasterers, glaziers, wallpaper hangers, aerographers, artists, decorators, and French polishers were also deemed at risk.
Although the specific chemicals responsible for the increased risk have yet to be identified, Guha and her colleagues observed that painting exposes individuals to many of the same carcinogens found in cigarette smoke. “To permit identification of specific causative agents encountered in the painting environment, future studies assessing cancer risks in painters should present risk estimates associated with individual components in paint,” the researchers commented.