An update of a mortality study of talc miners and millers in Italy

Am J Ind Med. 2003 Jul;44(1):63-9. doi: 10.1002/ajim.10240.


Background: While talc containing asbestiform fibers is considered a human carcinogen, only limited animal and human data are available on non-asbestiform talc. To provide further evaluation on the issue, we updated the analysis of an Italian cohort of talc miners and millers in Val Chisone; talc found here is free from asbestiform fibers.

Methods: The cohort was comprised of 1,795 men who had worked for at least 1 year in the mine and/or in the factory between 1946 and 1995. Vital status and death certificates were obtained from registration offices in the municipality of death or of birth. Employment, termination of employment, and detailed job history were obtained from personnel records at the plant.

Results: No excess was found for total cancer mortality, nor mortality for lung cancer. No case of mesothelioma was reported. There was a significant excess mortality from non-neoplastic respiratory diseases (SMR 228.2, 95% CI 190.2-271.5). Mortality excess for non-neoplastic respiratory diseases was mainly due to silicosis.

Conclusions: This study provides additional support for an association between talc in mining and milling and non-neoplastic respiratory diseases, while showing no significant excess risk for lung cancer and mesothelioma. The results also provide additional information of interest to evaluate the potential association between silica and lung cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Asbestos / poisoning
  • Cause of Death
  • Cohort Studies
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mineral Fibers / poisoning
  • Mining*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Mouth Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Silicosis / etiology
  • Silicosis / mortality*
  • Talc / poisoning*
  • Time Factors


  • Mineral Fibers
  • Asbestos
  • Talc