The effect of coal dust exposure on lung cancer risk was investigated in coal miners. Two case/comparison studies were performed. A 1 to 1 matched case analysis, matching age at death, was employed to examine the lung cancer risk of coal mine dust exposure and cigarette smoking status. A 2 to 1 matched case analysis, matching age at death and smoking status, was employed to examine the lung cancer risk of coal mine dust exposure independent of cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking and occupational history measures were derived from questionnaire data obtained from the miners when the four cohorts were established. In the 1 to 1 study, current cigarette smoking was a significant risk factor for lung cancer mortality. The odds ratio for risk of lung cancer mortality for current smokers compared with nonsmokers was 4.56. Underground mining for 25 or more years was not a risk factor for lung cancer mortality. The odds ratio for risk of lung cancer mortality for longer versus shorter term underground mining was 1.18. The odds ratio for the living comparison check was 0.87. In the 2 to 1 case/comparison study, smoking cigarettes for more than 30 years doubled the risk of lung cancer mortality. Extensive coal mine dust exposure from underground mining for 25 or more years gave an odds ratio of 0.89 for risk of lung cancer mortality. When comparison was on duration of smoking, no evidence of a dust/smoking interaction effect was revealed. Odds ratios were 0.69 for under 30 years smoked and 1.06 for over 30 years smoked. The same odds ratios for the living comparison check were 0.80 and 0.94, respectively. The authors conclude that cigarette smoking predicts lung cancer mortality in white male coal miners in the United States. There is no evidence that coal mine dust exposure by itself or in interaction with cigarette smoking results in increased lung cancer mortality.
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