A new study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has found that professional painters and decorators have a higher risk of bladder cancer than the general population.
They came to this conclusion by analysing data from 41 different studies and found almost 3,000 cases of bladder cancer among professional painters. This figure was taken after factors like smoking had been taken into account and painters were still 30% more likely to develop bladder cancer.
The reason why people in this trade are at greater risk is because paint contains some of the same chemicals as cigarettes. For instance, there is a group of carcinogenic substances in both paint and cigarettes called aromatic amines, but as there is more than one chemical in paint that can cause cancer, scientists aren’t sure which ones are responsible.
The amount of time a person had worked in the trade also had a bearing on whether they would develop bladder cancer, with those in the trade longer than ten years facing a greater risk than those less than ten years.
Four of the studies that identified the sufferers gender, found that female painters were much more likely to be affected than their male counterparts.
The analysis was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and the researchers concluded
‘Occupation as a painter is carcinogenic to humans’.
Their analysis backs up research done by the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO say that professional painters and decorators are at greater risk of bladder cancer.
Safer Ways to Paint
• Follow health and safety regulations at work or set by your employer.
• Switch to using eco-friendly paints that do not have the same harmful chemicals in them.
• Keep windows open during decorating and make sure all rooms are well ventilated.
However, Jessica Harris, a spokesperson for Cancer Research UK, said that smoking is still one of the biggest causal factors for the disease.
“It's also important to remember that smoking is the single biggest risk factor for bladder cancer, causing about two-thirds of all cases of the disease.”