Dust exposure and the risk of cancer in cement industry workers in Korea
Background Cement is used widely in the construction industry, though it contains hazardous chemicals such as hexavalent chromium. Several epidemiological studies have examined the association between cement dust exposure and cancer, but these associations have proved inconclusive. In the present study, we examined the association between dust exposure and cancer in cement industry workers in Korea.
Methods Our cohort consisted of 1,324 men who worked at two Portland cement manufacturing factories between 1997 and 2005. We calculated cumulative dust exposures, then categorized workers into high and low dust exposure groups. Cancer cases were identified between 1997 and 2005 by linking with the national cancer registry. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated for all workers and the high and low dust exposure groups, respectively.
Results The SIR for overall cancers in all workers was increased (1.35, 95% CI: 1.01–1.78). The SIR for stomach cancer in the high dust exposure group was increased (2.18, 95% CI: 1.19–3.65), but there was no increased stomach cancer risk in the low dust exposure group. The SIR for rectal cancer in all workers was increased (3.05, 95% CI: 1.32–6.02). Rectal cancer risk was similar in the high and low exposure groups.
Conclusions Our findings suggest a potential association between exposure in the cement industry and an increased risk of stomach and rectal cancers. However, due to the small number of cases, this association should be further investigated in a study with a longer follow-up period and adjustment for confounders.