Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Western men and one in three Australian men develop the cancer before the age of 75. Currently, only increasing age and family history have been well established as risk factors. A growing number of studies have investigated occupation in relation to prostate cancer but, like other risk factors, no associations have been confirmed. Mining employs a significant proportion of the work force in Western Australia. The aims of this study were: to describe the characteristics of miners in the Western Australian Prostate Health Study and investigate mining as a risk factor for prostate cancer and; to conduct a systematic search of the literature for studies that have investigated mining as an occupational risk factor for prostate cancer and to compare and contrast their methodologies and results.
Data was obtained from a population-based case control study conducted from January 1 2001 to August 20 2002 at The University of Western Australia. After controlling for age, family history and military service in Vietnam, miners had a statistically significantly reduced risk of prostate cancer (AOR 0.35 95% CI 0.16-0.75). The systematic literature search of studies examining mining and prostate found a reasonably consistent trend of a decreased risk of prostate cancer amongst miners. None of the published articles discussed their results regarding mining and prostate cancer in detail, and a biological mechanism to support these results has not previously been suggested. The relationship between mining and prostate cancer deserves further investigation.
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