Diesel engine exhaust and lung cancer risks – evaluation of the meta-analysis by Vermeulen et al. 2014

  • BACKGROUND: Vermeulen et al. 2014 published a meta-regression analysis of three relevant epidemiological US studies (Steenland et al. 1998, Garshick et al. 2012, Silverman et al. 2012) that estimated the association between occupational diesel engine exhaust (DEE) exposure and lung cancer mortality. The DEE exposure was measured as cumulative exposure to estimated respirable elemental carbon in μg/m(3)-years. Vermeulen et al. 2014 found a statistically significant dose-response association and described elevated lung cancer risks even at very low exposures. METHODS: We performed an extended re-analysis using different modelling approaches (fixed and random effects regression analyses, Greenland/Longnecker method) and explored the impact of varying input data (modified coefficients of Garshick et al. 2012, results from Crump et al. 2015 replacing Silverman et al. 2012, modified analysis of Moehner et al. 2013). RESULTS: We reproduced the individual and main meta-analytical results of Vermeulen et al. 2014. However, our analysis demonstrated a heterogeneity of the baseline relative risk levels between the three studies. This heterogeneity was reduced after the coefficients of Garshick et al. 2012 were modified while the dose coefficient dropped by an order of magnitude for this study and was far from being significant (P = 0.6). A (non-significant) threshold estimate for the cumulative DEE exposure was found at 150 μg/m(3)-years when extending the meta-analyses of the three studies by hockey-stick regression modelling (including the modified coefficients for Garshick et al. 2012). The data used by Vermeulen and colleagues led to the highest relative risk estimate across all sensitivity analyses performed. The lowest relative risk estimate was found after exclusion of the explorative study by Steenland et al. 1998 in a meta-regression analysis of Garshick et al. 2012 (modified), Silverman et al. 2012 (modified according to Crump et al. 2015) and Möhner et al. 2013. The meta-coefficient was estimated to be about 10-20 % of the main effect estimate in Vermeulen et al. 2014 in this analysis. CONCLUSIONS: The findings of Vermeulen et al. 2014 should not be used without reservations in any risk assessments. This is particularly true for the low end of the exposure scale.

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Author:Peter Morfeld, Michael Spallek
Pubmed Id:https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26269706
Parent Title (German):Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology
Publisher:BioMed Central
Place of publication:London
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2016/12/21
Date of first Publication:2015/08/12
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2016/12/21
Tag:DEE; Diesel; Epidemiology; Lung cancer; Meta-analysis
Page Number:18
First Page:1
Last Page:18
Institutes:Medizin / Medizin
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0