Background: Numerous studies have indicated an increased risk of lung cancer in pulp and paper industry workers. In a 1990 survey, standardized mortality ratio (SMR) was found to be 122 (95% CI:96-153) for lung cancer in Polish male workers in the pulp and paper industry, and 166 (95% CI:95-270) among workers engaged in paper production.
Methods: A nested case-control design within a cohort of pulp and paper workers was applied. Seventy-nine lung cancer cases and 237 "healthy" controls were selected from the cohort of 10,460 workers employed during the years 1968-1990, and observed until the end of 1995. Based on personnel files, occupational exposure was reconstructed by experts. Using a questionnaire, data on smoking habits were collected. ORs unadjusted and adjusted for smoking were calculated applying the model of conditional logistic regression.
Results: Occupational exposure to inorganic dusts (kaolin, lime, cement, brick, grindstone) adjusted for smoking was a significant lung cancer risk factor, with a 4.0-fold risk (95% CI:1.3-12.6), and a dose-response by cumulative dose index. Among organic dusts only wood dust increased albeit insignificantly the risk for those exposed (adjusted for smoking OR = 2.1, 95% CI:0.9-4.9), but without dose-response relationship.
Conclusions: Exposure to occupational dust with relatively low content of silica, but at high concentrations may be considered as a factor increasing lung cancer risk. However, the observation made in this study should be viewed with caution as it was based on a small number of cases, and further evidence is needed to confirm or refute the authors' hypothesis.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.