There is conflicting evidence on the association between asbestos exposure and prostate cancer (PCa). Two recent meta-analyses have claimed that exposure is associated with increased PCa incidence and mortality, but they suffer from some methodological flaws. Given the potential importance of this research question, we aimed to perform a methodologically sound systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the association between occupational asbestos exposure and the incidence of and mortality from PCa.
We followed PRISMA guidelines to systematically search for pertinent articles in three relevant electronic databases: Pubmed, Scopus, and Embase, from their inception to July 2020. The methodological quality of included articles was evaluated using the US National Institutes of Health tool. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) and standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) for PCa, as well as respective 95% confidence intervals (CIs), were extracted or calculated for each included cohort. Main and subgroup meta-analyses according to first year of employment, industry, asbestos type, and geographic region were performed.
Sixty-five articles comprising 68 cohorts were included. PCa incidence and mortality were not significantly associated with occupational asbestos exposure (pooled SIR: 1.06, 95% CI: 1.00–1.13, P = 0.062; pooled SMR: 1.03, 95% CI: 0.99–1.06, P = 0.115). PCa incidence was higher among workers employed after 1960 (SIR: 1.10, 95% CI: 1.01–1.20). Pooled SIR was elevated in European (SIR: 1.09, 95% CI: 1.01–1.18) and UK cohorts (SIR: 1.05, 95% CI: 1.02–1.09). Mortality was elevated in North American cohorts (SMR: 1.06, 95% CI: 1.02–1.10). Studies of lower methodological quality appeared to yield elevated SIRs or SMRs.
This systematic review and meta-analysis provides evidence that men with occupational asbestos exposure have a PCa incidence and mortality similar to that of the general population. Temporal and geographical variables seem to be related to higher SMR or SIR.