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Study finds styrene does not cause cancer

By: Miles Moore

January 8, 2013

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. (Jan. 8, 10:25 a.m. ET) — Available evidence shows no correlation between styrene — even among workers exposed to high levels of the substance — and increased fatality from any type of cancer, according to a new study.

An analysis performed by Gradient, a Cambridge-based environmental and risk science consulting firm, contradicts the June 2011 findings of the National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which listed styrene as an anticipated carcinogen in its 12th Report on Carcinogens.

Since that time, the U.S. styrene industry, led by the Styrene Information and Research Center, has decried the NTP ruling as based on a biased and faulty review of existing data. The European Union decided not to list styrene as a carcinogen after a full review of the database on the chemical, SIRC said.

Gradient analysts Lorenz Rhomberg, Julie Goodman and Robyn Prueitt performed the analysis, which has been published in the January/February 2013 issue of Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

According to the Gradient analysis, the only consistent increased incidence of any medical problem associated with styrene exposure was lung tumors, mostly benign, among one strain of lab mice.

“The only plausible mechanism for styrene-induced carcinogenesis…is not relevant to humans,” it said.