Pooled analysis of European case-control studies on the interaction of occupational carcinogens in the development of lung cancer (Synergy)

Project No. FF-FP 0271




For the compensation of occupational diseases caused cancer, the occupational exposures in the occupational disease process are usually assessed only mono-causual. For each substance it will be examined individually, whether it can be a possible cause of the cancer. In many workplaces there are mixed exposures such as asbestos and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, quartz, radiation or chrome and nickel. So far it has not been investigated, to which extent hazardous substances interact in the development of cancer.
The aim of SYNERGY is to investigate joint effects of five selected occupational carcinogens and tobacco smoking in the development of lung cancer. The results will provide evidence for creating fair compensation schemes for occupational lung cancer and more efficient prevention of occupational lung cancer.
Case-control studies providing lifetime occupational data and detailed smoking histories will be qualified for inclusion in SYNERGY.


The project is divided into three scientific work packages. Work package 1 is focusing on the pooled SYNERGY database. At present eleven case-control studies from Canada (1), France (2), Germany (2), Italy (3), Sweden (1), The Netherlands (1), and an IARC multi-center study in Central and Eastern Europe and the UK (1) have been pooled together.
The scope of work package 2 is to create the SYNERGY job exposure matrix (JEM) based on quantitative exposure measurements of five selected agents (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), asbestos, crystalline silica, chromium, nickel). JEM enables a quantitative estimate of the exposition against the selected hazardous substances for work-biographics. For studying the combined effects of exposure various metrics (cumulative degree average concentrations or peak stress) and models including smoking and various latencies are considered.
Work package 3 comprises the statistical analyses and risk estimation for the selected agents. The administrative coordination of SYNERGY is carried out by IARC.

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Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e.V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Prävention und Arbeitsmedizin der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung - Institut der Ruhr-Universität Bochum (IPA)
  • IARC International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, Frankreich (Projektleitung)
  • Bremer Institut für Präventionsforschung und Sozialmedizin (BIPS), Bremen
  • Clinica del Lavoro L. Devoto, Mailand
  • Department of Human Oncology and Center for Oncologic Prevention, Turin, Italien
  • Helmholtz-Zentrum München, Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt, Neuherberg
  • Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS), Utrecht, Niederlande
  • Institut für Gefahrstoff-Forschung (IGF), Bochum
  • Institut für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie (IMIBE), Essen
  • Karolinska Institutet (KI), Stockholm, Schweden
  • National Cancer Institute (NCI), Maryland, USA
  • Centre de recherche du CHUM, Université de Montréal, Kanada

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

Arbeitsbedingte Erkrankungen, Gefahrstoffe


Berufskrankheit, Krebserregende Stoffe, Prävention

Description, key words:

pooled analysis, occupational carcinogens, lung cancer, asbestos, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), nickel, chromium

Further information