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Occupational exposures appear to increase bladder cancer risk in painters, according to a study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Workers in certain occupations may face an increased risk of cancer due to exposures that they encounter on the job. Exposure to radiation, potentially hazardous chemicals, or second-hand smoke may all carry risk. Some studies have linked work as a painter with an increased risk of bladder and lung cancer.

Using data from multiple studies, researchers associated with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluated the risk for bladder cancer associated with occupational exposure to painting.

  • Overall, occupational exposure to painting increased the risk of bladder cancer by 25%. The elevated risk remained after taking into consideration smoking and other risk factors.
  • The longer the duration of exposure to painting, the greater the risk.
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The IARC has classified occupational exposure as a painter as “carcinogenic to humans,” based primarily on increases in risk of bladder cancer and lung cancer. Although the researchers say that the increase in bladder cancer risk is “modest,” they note that any elevation is noteworthy “because several million people are employed as painters worldwide.”

Reference: Guha N, Steenland NK, Merletti F, et al. Bladder cancer risk in painters: a meta-analysis. Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2010 Aug;67(8):568-73.