Cancer Incidence and Mortality Among Underground and Surface Goldminers in Western Australia
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Background: In a cohort of goldminers, we estimated cancer mortality and incidence, for both surface and underground workers, and we examined the hypothesis that (underground) mining may be protective against prostate cancer.Methods: Standardised mortality and incidence ratios (SMRs and SIRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated to compare cancer mortality and incidence of former goldminers with that of the general male population. Internal comparisons on duration of underground work were examined using Cox regression.Results: During 52 608 person-years of follow-up among 2294 goldminers, 1922 deaths were observed. For any cancer, mortality was increased for the total group of miners (SMR¼1.27, 95% CI 1.16–1.39). In the Cox models, lung cancer mortality and incidence were particularly increased among underground miners, even after adjustment for smoking. The SMR for prostate cancer suggested a lower risk for underground miners, whereas incidence of prostate cancer was significantly increased (SIR¼1.31, 95%CI 1.07–1.60) among underground miners.Conclusion: Overall cancer mortality and incidence was higher among Western Australian goldminers compared with the general male population, particularly for underground mining. This study does not support the hypothesis that miners have a decreased risk of prostate cancer.
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