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Diesel exhausts may expose city dwellers to raised cancer risk

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 06 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1669
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

Exposure to diesel exhaust may raise the risk of lung cancer in urban populations, conclude the authors of two new studies that have been hotly contested in the United States.

By examining the health records of more than 12 000 workers in the US mining industry who have been exposed to diesel exhausts from mining vehicles and machinery, researchers at the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the US National Cancer Institute found that among underground workers there was a small but significant raised risk of lung cancer (Journal of the National Cancer Institute doi:10.1093/jnci/djs034).

There was no increase in all cause mortality, which was lower than expected, consistent with the “healthy worker” effect. But in a cohort study the authors found that the standardised mortality ratio for lung cancer (203 deaths) was elevated by 26% (1.26 (95% confidence interval 1.09 to 1.44)) among all workers, including those who had never worked underground (Journal of the …

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