A matched case-control study was conducted to investigate the risk of gastric cancer in coalminers in the southern part of Limburg, The Netherlands. All 683 male cases of gastric cancer were identified at the five pathology departments in the area, all histologically confirmed by a pathologist. For each case a control patient, free of gastric cancer, was selected from the same pathology department, matched on date of birth. Of the 1366 patients enrolled in the study, an occupational history was collected regarding previous employment in a Dutch coal mine. Of the patients with gastric cancer, 28% had been employed as underground workers in a coalmine compared with 25% of the control group. The odds ratio for underground coalmining and gastric cancer was 1.15 (95% confidence limits: 0.89-1.47). There was no evidence for the existence of a dose-response relation. It was concluded that the study did not provide support for the hypothesis that underground coalmining increases the risk of gastric cancer.
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