A population-based case comparison study of incident lung cancer and occupational risk factors was conducted in the tricounty Detroit metropolitan area. Nearly 6000 lung cancer cases and a comparison group of 3600 colon cancer cases were interviewed. This report includes 3792 white and black male lung cancer cases and 1966 black and white colon cancer referents. Cigarette smoking, age at diagnosis, and lifetime work history were assessed to determine the relationship between length of employment in specific occupations and industries and lung cancer. Diverse patterns of association between work history and lung cancer were observed for black and white men. Significant associations were seen between lung cancer and increasing length of employment in the following occupations: for white men, concrete and terrazzo finishers, grinding machine operators, heat treating machine operators, miscellaneous machine operators, truck drivers, driver sales, and laborers; for black men, farm workers, automobile mechanics, painting machine operators, furnace operators, and garbage collectors; for both black and white men, farmers, slicing and cutting machine operators, and garbage collectors. Distinct patterns for black and white men also were observed for length of employment by industry. This study clearly demonstrates the need to include black men in studies of occupational cancer etiology and to evaluate black and white men separately. It also indicates the necessity for cigarette smoking history to accurately assess workplace cancer risks. We propose guidelines for incorporating the use of biomarkers into further studies of occupational cancer epidemiology.

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