Occupational solar exposure and basal cell carcinoma. A review of the epidemiologic literature with meta-analysis focusing on particular methodological aspects

Background: Numerous epidemiologic studies and a few systematic reviews have investigated the association between occupational solar exposure and basal cell carcinoma (BCC). However, previous reviews have several deficits with regard to included and excluded studies/risk estimates and the assessment of risk of selection bias (RoSB). Our aim was to review epidemiologic studies with a focus on these deficits and to use meta-(regression) analyses to summarize risk estimates.

Methods: We systematically searched PubMed (including MEDLINE) and Embase for epidemiologic studies. Study evaluation considered four main aspects of risk of bias assessments, i.e. Selection of subjects (selection bias); Exposure variables; Outcome variables; Data analysis.

Results: Of 56 identified references, 32 were used for meta-(regression) analyses. The overall pooled risk estimate for BCC comparing high/present vs. low/absent occupational solar exposure was 1.20 (95% CI 1.02-1.43); among studies without major deficits regarding data analysis, it was 1.10 (95% CI 0.91-1.33). Studies with low and high RoSB had pooled risk estimates of 0.83 (95% CI 0.73-0.93) and 1.95 (95% CI 1.42-2.67), respectively. The definitions of exposure and outcome variables were not correlated with study risk estimates. Studies with low RoSB in populations with the same latitude or lower than Germany had a pooled risk estimate of 1.01 (95% CI 0.88-1.15).

Conclusion: Due to the different associations between occupational solar exposure and BCC among studies with low and high RoSB, we reason that the current epidemiologic evidence base does not permit the conclusion that regular outdoor workers have an increased risk of BCC.

This article is published in the "European Journal of Epidemiology" (2024).

Bibliographic information

Title:  Occupational solar exposure and basal cell carcinoma. A review of the epidemiologic literature with meta-analysis focusing on particular methodological aspects. 

Written by:  A. Wendt, M. Möhner

in: European Journal of Epidemiology, 2024.  pages: 1-13, DOI: 10.1007/s10654-023-01061-w

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