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Risk of Selected Cancers due to Occupational Exposure to Chlorinated Solvents in a Case–Control Study in Montreal

Christensen, Krista Yorita MPH, PhD; Vizcaya, David MPH, PhD; Richardson, Harriet MSc, PhD; Lavoué, Jérôme MSc, PhD; Aronson, Kristan MSc, PhD; Siemiatycki, Jack MSc, PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2013 - Volume 55 - Issue 2 - p 198–208
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182728eab
Original Articles

Objective: To evaluate the association between exposure to chlorinated solvents and cancer.

Methods: We conducted a case–control study of occupational exposures and cancer in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, including 3730 cancer cases and 533 population controls. Occupational exposures were derived using a combination of subject-reported job history and expert assessment. We examined the associations between two chemical families and six chlorinated solvents with 11 sites of cancer.

Results: The majority of the associations examined were null, although many were based on small numbers. We found two significantly elevated odds ratios (ORs), one between perchloroethylene and prostate cancer (OR = 4.3; 95% CI: 1.4 to 13) and another between trichloroethylene and melanoma (OR = 3.2; 95% CI: 1.0 to 9.9).

Conclusions: There was little evidence of associations between chlorinated solvents and cancer. Limited power precludes strong inferences about absence of risk. We raise hypotheses about two possible associations: perchloroethylene with prostate cancer and trichloroethylene with melanoma.

Supplemental Digital Content is Available in the Text.

From the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center (CRCHUM) (Drs Christensen, Vizcaya, Lavoué, and Siemiatycki), Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Department of Social and Preventive Medicine (Dr Siemiatycki), and Guzzo–Cancer Research Society Chair in Environment and Cancer, School of Public Health (Dr Siemiatycki), Université de Montréal, Montréal, Quebec, Canada; Department of Community Health and Epidemiology (Dr Richardson and Aronson), Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Address correspondence to Jack Siemiatycki, MSc, PhD, Environmental Epidemiology and Population Health Research Group, Research Centre of the University of Montreal Hospital Network (CRCHUM), 3875 rue Saint-Urbain, Montréal, QC H2W 1V1, Canada (

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citation appears in the printed text and is provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

©2013The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine