Michael D. Attfield, Ph.D., who led the cohort study while at NIOSH, found that the risk of lung cancer among heavily exposed underground workers was five times the risk observed among workers in the lowest exposure category.
Turning to the case-control study, it confirmed the lung cancer findings from the cohort study. When the investigators took into account smoking and other lung cancer risk factors, the data showed a three-fold risk of lung cancer death overall and about a five-fold risk for heavily exposed underground workers, which is consistent with the cohort analysis.
For never smokers, risk of lung cancer death increased with increasing diesel exhaust exposure. “These data are especially revealing as they show the effect of diesel exhaust in the absence of smoking,” said Silverman. Although based on small numbers, non-smokers with the highest level of diesel exposure were seven times more likely to die from lung cancer than non-smokers in the lowest exposure category.
“This landmark study has informed on the lung cancer risks for underground mine workers, but the findings suggest that the risks may extend to other workers exposed to diesel exhaust in the United States and abroad, and to people living in urban areas where diesel exhaust levels are elevated,” said Joseph F. Fraumeni, Jr., M.D., director, DCEG.
For more information on the Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study, please see Questions & Answers athttp://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/pressreleases/2012/DieselMinersQandA.