The objective of this study was to review 32 studies on firefighters and to quantitatively and qualitatively determine the cancer risk using a meta-analysis.
A comprehensive search of computerized databases and bibliographies from identified articles was performed. Three criteria used to assess the probable, possible, or unlikely risk for 21 cancers included pattern of meta-relative risks, study type, and heterogeneity testing.
The findings indicated that firefighters had a probable cancer risk for multiple myeloma with a summary risk estimate (SRE) of 1.53 and 95% confidence interval (CI) of 1.21–1.94, non-Hodgkin lymphoma (SRE = 1.51, 95% CI = 1.31–1.73), and prostate (SRE = 1.28; 95% CI = 1.15–1.43). Testicular cancer was upgraded to probable because it had the highest summary risk estimate (SRE = 2.02; 95% CI = 1.30–3.13). Eight additional cancers were listed as having a “possible” association with firefighting.
Our results confirm previous findings of an elevated metarelative risk for multiple myeloma among firefighters. In addition, a probable association with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, prostate, and testicular cancer was demonstrated.