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Occupational exposure to organic solvents and breast cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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A Correction to this article was published on 20 November 2021

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Breast cancer is the most common cancer worldwide. Recent studies suggest that organic solvent exposure could be closely related to breast cancer, although the evidence remains controversial. Thus, we evaluated existing epidemiological evidence for the association between occupational solvent exposure and breast cancer. PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library were searched to identify published case–control and cohort studies that addressed occupational exposure to organic solvents and breast cancer, up to April, 2021. Meta-analyses using random-effects models were conducted to obtain the pooled odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) on the incidence of breast cancer in relation to occupational exposure. The pooled OR of breast cancer among workers exposed to organic solvents overall was 1.18 (95%CI, 1.11 ~ 1.25; I2 = 76.3%; 24 studies), compared to those with no exposure. After stratification by menopause and study location, it was revealed that the association between occupational exposure to organic solvents and the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women (OR, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.09 ~ 1.67; I2 = 73.4%; 7 studies) was significant, and there was also a clear association in workers in Europe (OR, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.12 ~ 1.32; I2 = 82.9%; 13 studies). We observed a significant association between occupational exposure to organic solvents and breast cancer in both cohort and case–control studies.

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Wenxuan Xiao and Jinglong Huang contributed to study conception, protocol design, literature review, data extraction, and manuscript drafting. Jianing Wang and Nan Hu contributed to protocol design. Youli Chen contributed to study revision. Shiyi Cao contributed to protocol design and manuscript drafting and editing. All authors agreed on the final version of the manuscript and take responsibility for its content.

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Correspondence to Shiyi Cao.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Responsible editor: Lotfi Aleya.

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Key messages

What is already known about this subject?

• Work-related diseases and injuries have always been followed closely by the International Labor Organization (ILO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the European Union (EU).

• Numerous epidemiological studies present conflicting evidence on the relationships between occupational exposure to organic solvents and breast cancer.

What are the new findings?

• This is the first meta-analysis on the association between occupational exposure to organic solvents and breast cancer.

• This meta-analysis revealed that occupational exposure to organic solvents is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, especially for premenopausal women.

How might this impact on policy or clinical practice in the foreseeable future?

• The findings of this study can be helpful to provide an extra basis for public health sectors and clinicians to take measures to prevent breast cancer occurrence in high-risk occupations.

The original online version of this article was revised: The statement for the equal contribution of the Authors is inserted in the proof.

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Xiao, W., Huang, J., Wang, J. et al. Occupational exposure to organic solvents and breast cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Environ Sci Pollut Res 29, 1605–1618 (2022).

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