The relationship between lung cancer and asbestos exposure

Chest. 1988 Sep;94(3):486-90. doi: 10.1378/chest.94.3.486.


This study supports the theory that asbestos exposure may be implicated in a recent upsurge of terminal lung cancer cases in Kure, Japan. The number of asbestos bodies found in the lung during autopsy of 158 subjects from 1984 to 1986 suggests that 70.4 percent of the 51 diagnosed lung cancer cases could be attributed to asbestos exposure. Of the 107 subjects in whom death was not caused by cancer, 38.4 percent had significant asbestos exposure. Types of asbestos bodies found in diagnosed lung cancer cases were analyzed using scanning electron microscopy and x-ray analyzer. Chrysotile was the most widely found component, but amphiboles such as crocidolite and amosite also were detected. Residents of Kure had high exposure to the inhalation of asbestos bodies, possibly related to the upsurge in lung cancer deaths. In our earlier report, asbestos exposure was implicated in the increased incidence of malignant mesothelioma in Kure, an active Japanese ship-building port since the 1920s. Our current findings indicate that asbestos exposure may be a pathogenic factor in lung cancer in world seaports where asbestos exposure has been prevalent.

MeSH terms

  • Asbestos / adverse effects*
  • Asbestos / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Lung / analysis
  • Lung / ultrastructure
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / pathology


  • Asbestos