A retrospective cohort study was undertaken to investigate the cancer mortality of granite workers. The study comprised 1,026 workers hired between 1940 and 1971. The number of person-years was 20,165, and the number of deaths 235. During the total follow-up 46 tumors were observed and 44.9 were expected. An excess mortality from tumors was observed for the workers followed for 20 years or more, the greatest excess occurring during the follow-up period of 25-29 years (observed 11, expected 5.2). Of the 46 tumors, 22 were lung cancers (expected 17.1) and 15 were gastrointestinal cancers (expected 9.7), nine of which were cancers of the stomach (expected 6.0). Mortality from lung cancer was excessive for workers with at least 15 years since entry into granite work (latency) (21 observed and 9.5 expected), being highest during the follow-up period of 25-29 years (observed 8, expected 2.1). The results indicate that granite exposure per se may be an etiologic factor in the initiation or promotion of malignant neoplasms.
The objective of the present study was to investigate the mortality, disability, and long-term morbidity of granite workers. The study included 1,026 workers hired between 1940 and 1971 and followed until the end of 1981. The total number of deaths was 235, and the expected number was 229.7. Excess mortality rates were observed for respiratory diseases (observed/expected = 28/13.9). The number of tumor deaths was 46 (expected 44.9). Excess lung cancer mortality was evident at 15 to 35 years of latency; the observed number of lung cancer deaths for the follow-up period of 25 to 29 years was 8, while 2.1 were expected. Mortality from cardiovascular diseases and violent deaths was slightly less than expected. The results for disability and long-term morbidity showed elevated incidence and prevalence rates for respiratory diseases and rheumatoid arthritis. The observed number of disability pensions due to rheumatoid arthritis in 1981 was 10 observed versus 1.8 expected, and the observed number of patients granted free medication was 19 versus 8.1 expected. The results indicate that granite dust exposure per se may be an etiologic and pathogenetic factor for lung cancer, cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, and some extrapulmonary nonmalignant chronic diseases.
Work related dust exposure is a risk factor for acute and chronic respiratory irritation and inflammation. Exposure to dust and cigarette smoke predisposes to exogenous viral and bacterial infections of the respiratory tract. Respiratory infection can also act as a risk factor in the development of atherosclerotic and coronary artery disease.
To investigate the association of dust exposure and respiratory diseases with ischaemic heart disease (IHD) and other cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).
The study comprised 6022 dust exposed (granite, foundry, cotton mill, iron foundry, metal product, and electrical) workers hired in 1940-76 and followed until the end of 1992. National mortality and morbidity registers and questionnaires were used. The statistical methods were person-year analysis and Cox regression.
Co-morbidity from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases ranged from 17% to 35%. In at least 60% of the co-morbidity cases a respiratory disease preceded a cardiovascular disease. Chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, and upper respiratory track infections predicted IHD in granite workers (rate ratio (RR) = 1.9; 95% CI 1.38 to 2.72), foundry workers (2.1; 1.48 to 2.93), and iron foundry workers (1.7; 1.16 to 2.35). Dust exposure was not a significant predictor of IHD or other CVD in any group. Dust exposure was related to respiratory morbidity. Thus, some respiratory diseases appeared to act as intermediate variables in the association of dust exposure with IHD.
Dust exposure had only a small direct effect on IHD and other CVD. IHD morbidity was associated with preceding respiratory morbidity. A chronic infectious respiratory tract disease appeared to play an independent role in the development of IHD.
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The incidence and prevalence of subjects awarded disability pensions and the prevalence of subjects receiving free medicines because of rheumatoid arthritis were studied in a Finnish cohort of 1026 granite workers hired between 1940 and 1971 and followed up until 31 December 1981. The incidence of awards of disability pensions because of rheumatoid arthritis during 1969-81, the prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis on 31 December 1981, and the prevalence of subjects receiving free medicines for rheumatoid arthritis at the end of 1981 were significantly higher among the granite workers than in the general male population of the same age. Retrospective analysis of the records of all patients with rheumatoid arthritis in the cohort showed a predominance of a severe, serologically positive and erosive form of rheumatoid arthritis, usually with an age at onset of 50 or over. The possible aetiological or pathophysiological role of granite dust in rheumatoid arthritis may be based on the effects of quartz on the immune system.
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