Silicosis and lung cancer risk in underground uranium miners

Health Phys. 1994 Apr;66(4):450-3. doi: 10.1097/00004032-199404000-00012.


The presence of radiographic silicosis as a risk factor for lung cancer was assessed in a case-control study conducted within a study cohort of New Mexico underground uranium miners. Chest radiographs were interpreted for the presence of silicosis for 65 lung cancer cases and 216 controls. The presence of silicosis on the chest radiograph taken closest to the start of employment or on the latest radiograph available was not associated with lung cancer risk after adjustment for cumulative exposure to radon progeny. The odds ratio associated with the presence of any type of opacity indicative of pneumoconiosis on the chest x ray closest to the start of employment was 1.33 (95% confidence interval, 0.31-5.72). For the most recent available chest x ray, the corresponding odds ratio was 1.16 (95% confidence interval, 0.35-3.84). Although the findings are limited by the relatively small number of subjects, the lack of association of silicosis with lung cancer suggests that silica exposure should not be regarded as a major uncertainty in extrapolating radon risk estimates from miners to the general population.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Male
  • Mining*
  • Radon
  • Radon Daughters
  • Risk Factors
  • Silicosis / epidemiology
  • Silicosis / etiology*
  • Uranium*


  • Radon Daughters
  • Uranium
  • Radon