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Erionite and cancer in a Mexican village
  1. Rodolfo Saracci
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rodolfo Saracci, Senior Visiting Scientist, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France; saracci{at}

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In this issue, Ortega-Guerrero et al1 report on the incidence of mesothelioma and lung cancer in a small village of Central Mexico, Tierra Blanca de Abajo, where 254 people (134 men and 120 women) were living in 2012. Death rates for lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma were computed, and standardised to the age and sex population structure of the state (Guanajuato) within which Tierra Blanca is located. In the village the death rates for lung cancer were some 70 times higher than in Guanajuato for men (based on eight recorded cases) and 100 times higher in women (based on six cases), while for malignant mesothelioma, rates (based on a total of four recorded cases) were, respectively, 248 and 105 per 100 000 person-years. An environmental investigation on 206 samples of rocks, soils and building materials found concentrations of a number of carcinogens (arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium and nickel) in concentrations lower than ‘deemed harmful to humans’. Chrysotile asbestos-cement used in roofs was the only source of the mineral but was equally present in nearby villages with no high incidence of respiratory cancers. Erionite was identified in the area in zeolitic tuff, in fine-grained old-alluvial terraces and in adobe bricks used for construction.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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