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Lung Cancer Mortality and Occupational Exposure to Asbestos Among Telephone Linemen: A Historical Cohort Study in France

Meguellati-Hakkas, Djamila MS; Cyr, Diane MS; Stücker, Isabelle PhD; Févotte, Joëlle MS; Pilorget, Corinne PhD; Luce, Danièle PhD; Guénel, Pascal MD, PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: November 2006 - Volume 48 - Issue 11 - p 1166-1172
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000243357.70143.47
Original Articles

Objective: The authors studied the mortality by lung cancer in telephone linemen exposed to asbestos at low levels during installation of telephone cables.

Methods: Three hundred eight lung cancers deaths were identified in the cohort. Exposure to asbestos and to other occupational carcinogens was assessed using a job-exposure matrix.

Results: The relative risk for lung cancer death associated with an estimated exposure of approximately 2 f/cc-years was 2.1 (95% confidence interval = 1.1–4.0) as compared with workers exposed to less than 0.5 f/cc-years. Mean annual exposure or exposure duration were not clearly related to lung cancer. Adjustment for other occupational lung carcinogens did not change this finding.

Conclusion: The observed mortality by lung cancer associated with asbestos exposure at low levels is higher than the prediction based on linear downward extrapolations from highly exposed occupational cohorts.

From Inserm, U754, IFR69 (Dr Meguellati-Hakkas, Dr Stücker, Dr Guénel), Villejuif, France; Inserm, U687, IFR69 (Dr Cyr, Dr Luce), Saint-Maurice, France; and Université Claude Bernard (Dr Févotte, Dr Pilorget), Lyon, France.

The study was financially supported by Fondation de France and by France Télécom.

Address correspondence to: Pascal Guénel, MD, PhD, INSERM U754, 16 avenue Paul Vailllant-Couturier, 94807 Villejuif Cedex, France; E-mail:

©2006The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine