Asbestos is a carcinogen associated with lung cancer, but few studies have examined the increased risk of lung cancer due to environmental asbestos exposure. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the association between environmental asbestos exposure and lung cancer. We searched for articles on non-occupational or environmental asbestos exposure and lung cancer in PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL and Web of Science databases. Our review included 15 studies, and except studies on ingestion exposure we performed a meta-analysis for 13 studies with respect to the type of exposure (neighbourhood and domestic/household exposure). Subgroup analyses and meta-regression were also performed. A significant increase in the risk of lung cancer was found for neighbourhood exposure (1.48, 95% CI 1.18 to 1.86), while the risk was not significantly increased for domestic/household exposure (1.04, 95% CI 0.85 to 1.27). With regard to neighbourhood exposure, naturally occurring asbestos and women were both associated with a higher risk of lung cancer; however, such an increase was not significantly greater compared with that associated with other sources of asbestos exposure and men. Although cautious interpretation is needed due to the large degree of heterogeneity and the small number of included studies, our findings imply that living near the source of asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer.
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