Comment to article: Curiel-García T, Candal-Pedreira C, Varela-Lema L, Rey-Brandariz J, Casal-Acción B, Moure-Rodríguez L, Figueiras A, Ruano-Ravina A, Pérez-Ríos M. Wood dust exposure and small cell lung cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2023 Apr 3. doi: 10.1038/s41370-023-00538-w. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37012384.


What is known about the subject?

 Small cell lung cancer is the most aggressive histological type of lung cancer and is associated with tobacco consumption. However, several occupational exposures to wood dust may also contribute to a higher risk of this disease. Wood dust has been recognised as a human carcinogen, and many occupations are highly exposed to wood dust. Yet, few studies have evaluated the exposure to wood dust and risk of developing small cell lung cancer.


What does this study add to the existing literature?

 Eleven studies analysing exposure to wood dust and the risk for small cell lung cancer were identified. Results suggest that occupations related to wood dust exposure are associated with a 40% (OR 1.4; 95% CI: 1.11-1.80) higher risk for developing this type of cancer compared to non-exposed. In studies that adjusted for tobacco, the risk was not significant (OR 1.27; 95% CI: 0.95-1.70). Findings also underline the poor quality of the available studies.


What are the implications of the findings?

Results from our study support the claim that exposure to wood dust can increase the risk of developing small cell lung cancer. It is crucial to estimate the impact of occupational exposure on workers to improve their individual protection and prevention. To prevent small cell lung cancer, there are strong arguments to recommend the implementation of control measures to reduce occupational exposure to wood dust, particularly for highly exposed occupations such as carpenters.



Cristina Candal Pedreira
Preventive Medicine and Public Health. University of Santiago de Compostela.
Health Research Institute of Santiago de Compostela.