To study the association between occupational asbestos exposure and pleural mesothelioma, lung cancer, and laryngeal cancer, specifically addressing risk associated with the lower end of the exposure distribution, risk of cancer subtypes, and the interaction between asbestos and smoking.
Using the Netherlands Cohort Study (n = 58,279 men, aged 55 to 69 years), asbestos exposure was estimated by linkage to job-exposure matrices. After 17.3 years of follow-up, 132 pleural mesothelioma, 2324 lung cancer, and 166 laryngeal cancer cases were available.
The multivariable-adjusted model showed overall positive associations between all levels of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma, lung cancer, and laryngeal cancer. Lung adenocarcinoma and glottis cancer showed only a positive association after prolonged higher asbestos exposure (hazard ratio per 10 years increment, 1.43 [95% confidence interval, 1.06 to 1.93] and 1.95 [95% confidence interval, 1.36 to 2.80], respectively). There was no statistically significant interaction between asbestos and smoking.
Asbestos levels encountered at the lower end of the exposure distribution may be associated with an increased risk of pleural mesothelioma, lung cancer, and laryngeal cancer.