Background: Asbestos is a well-recognized cause of lung cancer, but there is considerable between-study heterogeneity in the slope of the exposure-response relationship. Objective: We considered the role of quality of the exposure assessment to potentially explain heterogeneity in exposure-response slope estimates. Data sources: We searched PubMed MEDLINE (1950-2009) for studies with quantitative estimates of cumulative asbestos exposure and lung cancer mortality and identified 19 original epidemiological studies. One was a population-based case-control study, and the others were industry-based cohort studies. Data extraction: Cumulative exposure categories and corresponding risks were abstracted. Exposure-response slopes [KL(lung cancer potency factor of asbestos)] were calculated using linear relative risk regression models. Data synthesis: We assessed the quality of five exposure assessment aspects of each study and conducted random effects univariate and multivariate meta-regressions. Heterogeneity in exposure-response relationships was greater than expected by chance (I2= 64%). Stratification by exposure assessment characteristics revealed that studies with well-documented exposure assessment, larger contrast in exposure, greater coverage of the exposure history by exposure measurement data, and more complete job histories had higher meta-KLvalues than did studies without these characteristics. The latter two covariates were most strongly associated with the KLvalue. Meta-KL values increased when we incrementally restricted analyses to higher-quality studies. Conclusions: This meta-analysis indicates that studies with higher-quality asbestos exposure assessment yield higher meta-estimates of the lung cancer risk per unit of exposure. Potency differences for predominantly chrysotile versus amphibole asbestos-exposed cohorts become difficult to ascertain when meta-analyses are restricted to studies with fewer exposure assessment limitations.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Amphiboles, Asbestos, Chrysotile, Lung cancer, Meta-analysis
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1002879, hdl.handle.net/1765/33233
Citation
Lenters, V, Vermeulen, R, Dogger, S, Stayner, L, Portengen, L, Burdorf, A, & Heederik, D. (2011). A meta-analysis of asbestos and lung cancer: Is better quality exposure assessment associated with steeper slopes of the exposure-response relationships?. Environmental Health Perspectives, 119(11), 1547–1555. doi:10.1289/ehp.1002879