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Keywords:

  • coal mining;
  • lung cancer;
  • occupation;
  • Xuanwei;
  • China

Abstract

Background

Xuanwei, China, experiences some of the highest rates of lung cancer in China. While lung cancer risk has been linked to the household use of bituminous coal, no study has comprehensively evaluated the risk of lung cancer associated with the mining of this coal in Xuanwei. In Xuanwei, coal is typically extracted from underground mines, without ventilation, and transported to the surface using carts powered by manpower or electricity.

Methods

We evaluated the risk of lung cancer and working as a coal miner, in the absence of diesel exhaust exposure, in a population-based case–control study of 260 male lung cancer cases and 260 age-matched male controls with information on occupational histories. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for working as a coal miner and years of working as a coal miner were calculated by conditional logistic regression, adjusting for potential confounders, such as smoking and household coal use.

Results

We observed an increased risk of lung cancer among coal miners (OR = 2.7; 95%CI = 1.3–5.6) compared to noncoal miners. Further, a dose–response relationship was observed for the risk of lung cancer and the number of years working as a coal miner (Ptrend = 0.02), with those working as miners for more than 10 years experiencing an almost fourfold increased risk (OR = 3.8; 95%CI = 1.4–10.3) compared to noncoal miners.

Conclusions

These findings suggest that coal mining in Xuanwei may be a risk factor for lung cancer. Am. J. Ind. Med. 55:5–10, 2012. Published 2011. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.