Occupational exposure to wood dust causes an increase of over 40 per cent in the risk of developing lung cancer, a major study has found.
Researchers from Spanish universities and health institutes evaluated eleven studies with a total of 2,368 small cell lung cancer (SCLC) cases and 357,179 controls.
The systematic review and meta-analysis of the scientific literature summarized and analysed the risks of wood dust-related occupations on development of SCLC, taking tobacco use into account.
It found overall, exposure to wood dust “significantly increases” the risk of SCLC, with the studies showing the effect consistently. It determined there was a 41 per cent higher relative rate of this type of lung cancer in workers occupationally exposed to wood dust.
The study concluded: “The results of this study support that exposure to wood dust can increase the risk of developing small cell lung cancer. Determining the impact of occupational exposure on workers is essential to improve their individual protection and prevention.”
It added: “There is a strong case for recommending the implementation of control measures to reduce occupational exposure to wood dust, specifically for highly exposed occupations such as carpenters and sawmills, in order to prevent small cell lung cancer.”
Curiel-García, T., Candal-Pedreira, C., Varela-Lema, L. et al. Wood dust exposure and small cell lung cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-023-00538-w