Formaldehyde and lymphohematopoietic cancers: A review of two recent studies

This study reviewed and evaluated two recent epidemiological studies of formaldehyde exposure and lymphohematopoietic cancers. One is an update of mortality in a retrospective cohort study of industrial workers and the other is a proportional mortality and case-control study among embalmers. Both studies included subjects with considerable exposure to formaldehyde and both are focused on the myeloid leukaemias. The principal epidemiological methods and analyses used in the studies are described and evaluated. Additional measures of risk are presented. Neither study reports a significant excess of mortality from any form of lymphohematopoietic cancer. However, both studies are interpreted by their authors as positive for an association between formaldehyde and the myeloid leukaemias. This is based on weak and transitory associations seen in exposure-response analyses of relative risks. Issues are raised relating to the interpretation of these findings. The authors concluded that there is no statistically significant absolute excess mortality from any lymphohematopoietic cancer in either study. The study of industrial workers showed only a weak and transitory relationship between peak exposure to formaldehyde and the myeloid leukaemias. Limited exposure-response relationships for the myeloid leukaemias in the case-control study of embalmers apparently have not been analysed for statistical significance. These limited exposure-response relationships do not provide clear evidence of a causal relationship between formaldehyde and the myeloid leukaemias.

Authors: Cole, Philip; Adami, Hans-Olov; Trichopoulos, Dimitrios; Mandel, Jack ;Full Source: Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 2010, 58(2), 161-166 (Eng) ;