A meta-analysis of 41 studies involving more than 2,900 bladder cancer cases or deaths among painters revealed that such workers were 28% more likely than members of the general population to develop bladder cancer—even after adjusting for cigarette smoking, the most important risk factor for the disease.

The risk remained elevated after accounting for other occupational exposures and after stratifying the results by study design, study location, and patient gender, although some evidence showed that female painters were more likely than men to develop bladder cancer.

Compared with individuals with no occupational exposure as painters, those who had more than 10 years of exposure had an 81% increased risk of bladder cancer and subjects with less than 10 years of exposure had a 41% increased risk, according to a report in Occupational and Environmental Medicine (2010;67:568-573).

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The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies occupational exposure as a painter as “carcinogenic to humans” largely based on increased risks for bladder and lung cancers, but the specific agents raising the risk of bladder cancer in these workers remain unknown.