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Occup Environ Med. 2010 Jun;67(6):365-74. doi: 10.1136/oem.2009.047092. Epub 2009 Oct 8.

Could mining be protective against prostate cancer? A study and literature review.

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Western Australian Institute for Medical Research, Perth, Australia.



Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Western men and one in three Australian men develops the cancer before the age of 75. Currently, only increasing age, race and family history have been well established as risk factors. A growing number of studies have investigated occupation in relation to prostate cancer but, like other risk factors, no associations have been confirmed. Mining employs a significant proportion of the work force in Western Australia. The aims of this study were to describe the characteristics of miners in the Western Australian Prostate Health Study, investigate mining as a risk factor for prostate cancer, conduct a systematic search of the literature for studies that have investigated mining as an occupational risk factor for prostate cancer and compare and contrast their methodologies and results.


Data were obtained from a population-based case-control study conducted from 1 January 2001 to 20 August 2002 at The University of Western Australia.


After controlling for age, family history and military service in Vietnam, miners had a statistically significantly reduced risk of prostate cancer (adjusted OR 0.35, 95% CI 0.16 to 0.75). The systematic literature search of studies examining mining and prostate cancer found a reasonably consistent trend of a decreased risk of prostate cancer among miners. None of the published articles discussed their results regarding mining and prostate cancer in detail, and a biological mechanism to support these results has not previously been suggested.


The relationship between mining and prostate cancer deserves further investigation.

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