Mortality of a cohort of men in a silicosis register: further evidence of an association with lung cancer

Am J Ind Med. 1990;17(2):163-71. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700170203.


Lung cancer mortality from 1980 to 1986 was studied in a cohort of 1,419 men in a silicosis register who had no previous exposure to asbestos and polyaromatic hydrocarbons. The 28 deaths from lung cancer were statistically in excess of expected (SMR 2.03; 95% CI 1.35-2.93). Excess risks of lung cancer were found in both underground workers (SMR 3.41; 95% CI 1.10-7.97; based on 5 deaths) and surface workers (SMR 1.87, 95% CI 1.18-2.81; based on 23 deaths). All lung cancer deaths were smokers. There was an increase in SMRs with longer latency periods and years of exposure, with the greatest risk found in those who had worked for 30 or more years after more than 30 years since first exposed (SMR 3.07, based on 16 deaths). The risk for lung cancer was higher in those with tuberculosis (SMR 2.52; 95% CI 1.52-3.94) and showed an increasing trend with severity of silicosis, from category 1 to 3 and from category A to C, with highest risk in those with tuberculosis and category 3 (SMR 4.44 based on 3 deaths) or tuberculosis and category C (SMR 7.63 based on 7 deaths). Most of the excess lung cancer risk in silicotics is due to smoking, but a synergistic effect between smoking and silica/silicosis on the risk of lung cancer is also likely. In particular, a possible role of silicosis and tuberculosis as the fibrotic seedbed for malignant growth in the lung is strongly supported.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Silicosis / epidemiology
  • Silicosis / etiology
  • Silicosis / mortality*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / mortality*
  • Time Factors