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Cancer | Respiratory conditions | Asbestos | Research/studies | Worker health and wellness | Workplace exposures

Smoking, asbestos exposure ups workers’ lung cancer death risk: study

April 24, 2013

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New York – The risk of developing lung cancer increases when workers smoke, are exposed to asbestos and have asbestosis, according to a new study from the American Thoracic Society.

Researchers examined National Death Index data from the early 1980s that included more than 2,000 asbestos-exposed workers and 50,000 non-asbestos-exposed workers.

Among non-smokers, workers exposed to asbestos had a 5.2-fold increased risk of dying from lung cancer, according to an ATS press release. Smokers exposed to asbestos had an increased death rate more than 28-fold, and smokers exposed to asbestos and who had asbestosis – a lung disease caused by inhaling asbestos fibers – had a 37-fold increased risk of dying from lung cancer.

For workers who have experienced longtime exposure to asbestos, quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk of developing lung cancer, researcher said.

The study was published online April 11 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.