Background: Lung cancer mortality rates among white males in the United States were observed to be elevated during 1950-69 in counties with shipbuilding industries during World War II; risk was found to be associated with asbestos exposure. We evaluated the geographic patterns in more recent years, 1970-94, for whites and compared them with the 1950-69 patterns.
Methods: We calculated age-adjusted rates and estimated rate ratios between comparison groups.
Results: Rates generally were higher in shipyard counties than in all nonshipyard counties and in coastal nonshipyard counties for both sexes and time periods. Rates increased markedly from 1950-69 to 1970-94 in all groups, with the changes more pronounced in females than males. Pleural mesothelioma mortality rates were also significantly higher in shipyard counties than coastal nonshipyard counties in all regions among males but not among females.
Conclusions: The more pronounced changes in lung cancer mortality rates among females in shipyard counties may be attributed to the combined effects of low asbestos exposures and changes in smoking behavior. Am. J. Ind. Med. 37:512-521, 2000. Published 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.