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Risk Of Mesothelioma From Exposure To Crocidolite Asbestos: A 1995 Update Of A South African Mortality Study

D. Kielkowski, G. Nelson, D. Rees
Published 2000 · Medicine

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OBJECTIVE To find the risk of developing mesothelioma in a cohort born in 1916–36 in Prieska, Northern Cape Province, South Africa. METHODS A birth cohort mortality study was carried out in a small town in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa, with a history of crocidolite asbestos mining and milling. The cohort comprised all white births registered in the magisterial district of Prieska from 1916 to 1936, inclusive (2390). Causes of death due to mesothelioma and other cancers as recorded on medical certificates of cause of death were investigated. Person-years analysis was used to calculate mortalities due to mesothelioma, other respiratory cancers, and other non-respiratory cancers. Proportional cancer mortalities were also calculated for mesothelioma and other specific neoplasms. RESULTS The follow up rate for the cohort was 74.3% in 1995, and 683 traced members (38.6%) had died. Cause of death was unknown for 6.4% of deaths. There were 118 cases of cancer, 28 of them from mesothelioma, giving a cause specific mortality for mesothelioma of 277 (170–384) per 106 person-years. The rates for men and women were 366 and 172 per 106 person-years, respectively. The mortality for lung cancer (29 deaths) was 287 (135–436) per 106person-years, and that for other non-respiratory cancers (60 deaths) was 593 (442–745). Two cases of laryngeal and four of colon cancer were observed. All cancer mortality, mesothelioma, and lung cancer proportional cancer mortality ratios were increased. CONCLUSION The mortality for mesothelioma in men was twice that in women, probably because men were more likely to have had both occupational and environmental exposure to asbestos. Nevertheless, the mortality in women was still high and is probably indicative of the environmental exposure as white women were rarely employed in the asbestos industry in the Prieska area. Due to the long latency from first exposure to diagnosis of the neoplasm, the cause specific mortality in this cohort could be expected to increase rapidly over the next 10 years.
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