Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2016 June 14 [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Yang HY, Huang SH, Shie RH, Chen PC.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:
Although asbestos has been recognised as a strong carcinogen, many asbestos minerals exist in concrete masses, and the health risks of these materials remain inconclusive. Nephrite jade is a concrete mass of amphibole that consists of asbestiform and non-asbestiform particles. The objective of the study was to explore the carcinogenetic effect of nephrite.
METHODS:
We examined cancer mortality between 1979 and 2011 in Fengtian, where nephrite was mass produced from 1970 to 1980, and calculated standardised mortality ratios (SMRs).
RESULTS:
We observed significantly elevated mortality risks for cancer of the hypopharynx (SMR 2.31; 95% CI 1.37 to 3.65), larynx (SMR 2.51; 95% CI 1.55 to 3.83), oesophagus (SMR 2.04; 95% CI 1.62 to 2.54) and stomach (SMR 1.38; 95% CI 1.17 to 1.63). This study analysed the lengths, widths, structures, chemical compositions, aerodynamic diameters and distributions of elongated mineral particles (EMPs) in airways. The majority of the EMPs (68%) were short (<5 μm) and thin (<0.5 µm), and possessed asbestiform structures. The median aerodynamic diameter of the EMPs was 1.2 μm. The total deposition proportion in airways was 51.3%. The major deposition sites were the head airway (37.5%), followed by the alveolar region (10.6%) and the tracheobronchial region (3.2%). CONCLUSIONS: The results have shown an association between EMPs and increased risk of respiratory and digestive cancers. Further research is needed that includes information on smoking habits and exposure to asbestos.