Chrysotile asbestos has continued to be mined and used in China, but its health effects on exposed workers have not been well documented. This study was conducted to give a complete picture about cause-specific mortality in Chinese asbestos workers. A cohort of 586 males and 279 females from a chrysotile textile factory were prospectively followed for 37 years. Their vital status was identified, and the date and underlying cause of death were verified from death registry. Cause-specific standardized mortality ratios by gender were computed with nationwide gender- and cause-specific mortality rates as reference. Male workers were 11 years older, and had 6 years longer exposure duration than females; 79% in males and 1% in females smoked. In males, the mortality rate of all cancers doubled; both larynx and lung cancer were four-fold, and mesothelioma was 33-fold. In females, there was slightly excess mortality from lung cancer and all cancers, and significant increase in mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. Other significantly increased mortality was seen from cancers of thymus, small intestine and penis in males, and cancers of bone and bladder in females. In addition to asbestosis, mortality from pulmonary heart disease was significantly elevated in both genders. The data confirmed significantly excess mortality from mesothelioma in either gender, lung and larynx cancers in males, and ovarian cancer in females. A gender difference in mortality from lung cancer and all cancers could be mainly due to the discrepancies in age, exposure duration and smoking between the male and female workers.
© 2012 Japanese Cancer Association.