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Cancer Mortality Among Textile Workers in Shanghai, China: A Preliminary Study

Fang, Shona C. SM; Eisen, Ellen A. ScD; Dai, Helian MD; Zhang, Hongxi MD; Hang, Jingqing MD; Wang, Xiaorong MD, PhD; Christiani, David C. MD, MPH, MS

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2006 - Volume 48 - Issue 9 - p 955-958
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000232527.76794.62
Original Articles

Objective: We assessed the association between cotton textile work and cancer mortality.

Methods: The cancer mortality experience of 912 (444 cotton, 468 silk) textile workers in Shanghai, China, was compared. Workers were followed from 1981 to 2003. The associations between cotton textile work and death due to all cancers combined (with and without lung cancer) and to gastrointestinal cancers were estimated with Cox models, adjusting for age, work years, and pack-years.

Results: There were 69 deaths. The adjusted hazard rate ratio (HR) was 2.10 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.98–4.47) for all cancers combined and 2.56 (95% CI, 1.14–5.74) after excluding lung cancer. For gastrointestinal cancers, the adjusted HR was 2.09 (95% CI, 0.83–5.27).

Conclusions: These preliminary data suggest that, with the exception of lung cancer, cotton workers have significantly higher cancer mortality rates than silk workers.

From the Department of Environmental Health (Occupational Health Program) (Ms Fang, Dr Eisen, Dr Wang, Dr Christiani), Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts; Putuo District People’s Hospital (Dr Dai, Dr Zhang, Dr Hang), Shanghai, China; and the Pulmonary and Critical Care Unit (Dr Christiani), Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Supported by NIOSH Grant R01OH02421 and NIH Grant ES00002.

Address correspondence to: David C. Christiani, MD, MPH, MS, Harvard School of Public Health, Occupational Health Program, 665 Huntington Avenue, Building I, Room 1407, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail:

©2006The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine