Childhood cancer and residential proximity to petrol stations: a nationwide registry-based case-control study in Switzerland and an updated meta-analysis.

Mazzei, Antonella; Konstantinoudis, Garyfallos; Kreis, Christian; Diezi, Manuel; Ammann, Roland; Zwahlen, Marcel; Kühni, Claudia; Spycher, Ben (2021). Childhood cancer and residential proximity to petrol stations: a nationwide registry-based case-control study in Switzerland and an updated meta-analysis. (In Press). International archives of occupational and environmental health Springer 10.1007/s00420-021-01767-y

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Benzene is a known carcinogen for adult leukemia. Exposure to benzene through parental occupation and the use of household products has been associated with childhood leukemia (CL). Ambient benzene has also been associated with CL and central nervous system (CNS) tumors. We aimed to investigate whether the higher ambient levels of benzene in proximity of petrol stations are associated with a greater risk of childhood cancers, leukemia, and CNS tumors.


We identified children diagnosed with cancer at age 0-15 years during 1985-2015 from the Swiss Childhood Cancer Registry and selected 10 age and sex-matched controls per case from national censuses. We calculated the distance from children's home to the nearest petrol station using precise geocodes. We estimated odds ratios using conditional logistic regression adjusting for ambient levels of NO2, distance to highways, level of urbanization, and presence of a cantonal cancer registry. In addition, we ran a meta-analysis pooling current results for CL with those of previous studies.


We identified 6129 cases, of which 1880 were leukemias and 1290 CNS tumors. 24 cases lived within 50 m from a petrol station. The adjusted odds ratio of a cancer diagnosis for children thus exposed compared to unexposed children (> 500 m) was 1.29 (0.84-1.98) for all cancers combined, 1.08 (0.46-2.51) for leukemia, and 1.30 (0.51-3.35) for CNS tumors. During 2000-2015, when exposure assessment was more precise, the adjusted odds ratio for any cancer diagnosis was 1.77 (1.05-2.98). The summary relative risk estimate for CL in the meta-analysis including four studies was 2.01 (1.25-3.22).


Our study provides weak support for an increased risk of childhood cancers among children living close to petrol stations. A meta-analysis including our study suggests an increased risk for CL.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Gynaecology, Paediatrics and Endocrinology (DFKE) > Clinic of Paediatric Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Health Sciences (GHS)

UniBE Contributor:

Mazzei Abba, Antonella; Konstantinoudis, Garyfallos; Kreis, Christian; Ammann, Roland; Zwahlen, Marcel; Kühni, Claudia and Spycher, Ben


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services






[4] Swiss National Science Foundation




Beatrice Minder Wyssmann

Date Deposited:

22 Oct 2021 10:58

Last Modified:

17 Nov 2021 15:39

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Additional Information:

Garyfallos Konstantinoudis and Christian Kreis have contributed

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Air pollution Benzene Hematological cancer Solvents




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