An overview of the risk of lung cancer in relation to exposure to asbestos and of taconite miners

Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. 2007 Oct 5 [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Berry G, Gibbs GW.

School of Public Health, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.


Exposure–response relationships between the relative risk of lung cancer and quantitative measures of exposure to asbestos are available from a number of epidemiological studies. Meta-analyses of these relationships have been published by Lash et al. (1997) [Lash, T.L., Crouch, E.A.C., Green, L.C., 1997. A meta-analysis of the relation between cumulative exposure to asbestos and relative risk of lung cancer. Occup. Environ. Med. 54, 254–263] and Hodgson and Darnton (2000) [Hodgson, J.T., Darnton, A., 2000. The quantitative risks of mesothelioma and lung cancer in relation to asbestos exposure. Ann. Occup. Hyg. 44, 565–601]. In this paper, the risks derived in these meta-analyses have been compared. Lash et al., concentrated on process and found that the risk of lung cancer increased as the asbestos is refined by processing. Hodgson and Darnton concentrated on fibre type and found that the risk was highest for exposure to amphibole asbestos (crocidolite and amosite), lowest for chrysotile and intermediate for mixed exposure. Some of the differences between the conclusions from the two meta-analyses are a consequence of the choice of studies included. The range of asbestos types included in the studies in the analysis of Hodgson and Darnton was wider than that in Lash et al., enabling differences between fibre types to be analyzed more readily. There are situations where occupational exposure to chrysotile asbestos has shown no detectable increase in risk of lung cancer. Taconite miners have shown no increased risk of mortality due to lung cancer.

Keywords: Mesothelioma; Amosite; Grunerite; Taconite; Crocidolite; Tremolite; Anthophyllite; Winchite; Risk assessment; Etiology