DOI: 10.1002/ijc.34881 ISSN: 0020-7136

Occupational asbestos exposure and risk of esophageal cancer: A systematic review and meta‐analysis

Monireh Sadat Seyyedsalehi, Paolo Boffetta
  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


Esophageal cancer (EC), which includes squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and adenocarcinoma (EAC), is an important cancer with poor prognosis and high mortality rate. Several occupational exposures have been associated with EC. We aim to investigate the association between occupational asbestos exposure and EC risk, considering types of asbestos and histology of the disease. We included studies mentioned in the list of references in previous reviews and pooled analyses, and we conducted an independent search in PubMed and Scopus. Forest plots of relative risks (RR) were constructed based on the association between occupational asbestos and EC risk. Random‐effects models were used to address heterogeneity between 48 independent cohort and case‐control studies. We found an association between occupational asbestos exposure and EC (meta‐relative risk [RR] = 1.20, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.09‐1.32; I2 = 58.8%, p‐heterogeneity [het] <.001). The results of stratification by job (p‐het = .20) indicate an increased RR among asbestos product workers (RR = 1.39, 95% CI = 1.07‐1.81), asbestos applicators (RR = 1.41, 95% CI = 1.20‐1.67), and construction workers (RR = 1.12, 95% CI = 1.02‐1.24). There was no heterogeneity in meta‐RR according to outcome (p = .29), geographic region (p = .69), year of publication (p = .59), quality score (p = .73), asbestos type (p = .93), study design (p = .87), and gender (p = .88), control for potential confounders (p = .20), year of first employment (p = .94) and exposure level (p = .43). The stratification analysis by histology type found an increased RR for both ESCC 1.33(1.03‐1.71) and EAC 1.45(1.03‐2.04) (p‐het = .68). We didn't find evidence of publication bias (p = .07). The results of our study suggest that occupational asbestos exposure is associated with an increased risk of EC in both histology types.

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