This study provides a detailed analysis of the global and regional burden of cancer due to occupational carcinogens from the Global Burden of Disease 2016 study.
The burden of cancer due to 14 International Agency for Research on Cancer Group 1 occupational carcinogens was estimated using the population attributable fraction, based on past population exposure prevalence and relative risks from the literature. The results were used to calculate attributable deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).
There were an estimated 349 000 (95% Uncertainty Interval 269 000 to 427 000) deaths and 7.2 (5.8 to 8.6) million DALYs in 2016 due to exposure to the included occupational carcinogens—3.9% (3.2% to 4.6%) of all cancer deaths and 3.4% (2.7% to 4.0%) of all cancer DALYs; 79% of deaths were of males and 88% were of people aged 55 –79 years. Lung cancer accounted for 86% of the deaths, mesothelioma for 7.9% and laryngeal cancer for 2.1%. Asbestos was responsible for the largest number of deaths due to occupational carcinogens (63%); other important risk factors were secondhand smoke (14%), silica (14%) and diesel engine exhaust (5%). The highest mortality rates were in high-income regions, largely due to asbestos-related cancers, whereas in other regions cancer deaths from secondhand smoke, silica and diesel engine exhaust were more prominent. From 1990 to 2016, there was a decrease in the rate for deaths (−10%) and DALYs (−15%) due to exposure to occupational carcinogens.
Work-related carcinogens are responsible for considerable disease burden worldwide. The results provide guidance for prevention and control initiatives.