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Increased risk of bladder cancer for painters

Recent article highlights cancer risks for painters and decorators

Photo of house painter: istock

26 August 2010

Painters are said to face a significantly increased risk of developing bladder cancer, a new study has confirmed. The International Agency for the Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified occupational exposure to chemicals in paint as ‘carcinogenic to humans’.

Researchers at the IARC carried out an analysis of over 2,900 cases of bladder cancer, arising in professional painters that were reported in 41 individual studies. Other occupations considered included glaziers, artists, decorators, and plasterers.

The findings, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (Occup Environ Med 2010;67:568-573), indicated that, although cigarette smoking is the primary cause of bladder cancer, the continual exposure to chemicals in paint also leads to an increased risk of developing the cancer. The exact chemicals in paint are yet to be determined, however the researchers believe that it is the aromatic amines that are also present in cigarette smoke that create the increased risk.

In common with other “occupational diseases” such as asbestosis and silicosis the study also highlighted that the risk of cancer for painters is ‘dose-related’ meaning the risk increases with the duration of exposure. Those who had worked as a painter for more than 10 years were more likely to develop bladder cancer than those who had worked less than 10 years.

With more than 330,000 new cases of bladder cancer diagnosed each year, and more than 130,000 deaths per year, bladder cancer has been estimated as the ninth most common cancer diagnosis worldwide. The IARC warn that “even the modest increase in the relative risk of cancer is remarkable”.

Leigh Day & Co specialises in cases for industrial cancer victims. To speak to a specialist industrial diseases lawyer please contact Daniel Easton on 020 7650 1200.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.


Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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