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Mortality from all cancers of asbestos factory workers in east London 1933–80


OBJECTIVE To give the observed and expected deaths due to cancer at all separate sites in asbestos workers in east London, and to analyse these for overall effect and exposure-response trend.

METHODS The mortality experience of a cohort of over 5000 men and women followed up for over 30 years since first exposure to asbestos has been extracted.

RESULTS There was a large excess of deaths due to cancer (537 observed, 222 expected). Most of these were due to cancer of the lung (232 observed, 77 expected) and pleural (52) and peritoneal (48) mesothelioma. The exposure-response trend for all these three causes was highly significant. There was also an excess of cancer of the colon (27 observed, 15 expected) which was significantly related to exposure. There were significant excesses of cancer of the ovary, of the liver, and of the oesophagus but with no consistent relation to exposure.

CONCLUSIONS The excess risk of cancer after exposure to asbestos was mainly due to cancer of the lung and mesothelioma. An exposure related excess of cancer of the colon was also detected but the possibility that some of these deaths may have been peritoneal mesotheliomas could not be excluded. There was no consistent evidence of exposure related excesses at any other site.

  • asbestos
  • cancer
  • exposure-response

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