Uranium mining and lung cancer in Navajo men

N Engl J Med. 1984 Jun 7;310(23):1481-4. doi: 10.1056/NEJM198406073102301.


We performed a population-based case-control study to examine the association between uranium mining and lung cancer in Navajo men, a predominantly nonsmoking population. The 32 cases included all those occurring among Navajo men between 1969 and 1982, as ascertained by the New Mexico Tumor Registry. For each case in a Navajo man, two controls with nonrespiratory cancer were selected. Of the 32 Navajo patients, 72 per cent had been employed as uranium miners, whereas no controls had documented experience in this industry. The lower 95 per cent confidence limit for the relative risk of lung cancer associated with uranium mining was 14.4. Information on cigarette smoking was available for 21 of the 23 affected uranium miners; eight were nonsmokers and median consumption by the remainder was one to three cigarettes daily. These results demonstrate that in a rural nonsmoking population most of the lung cancer may be attributable to one hazardous occupation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American*
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mining*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology*
  • New Mexico
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Registries
  • Risk
  • Smoking
  • Uranium*


  • Uranium