The authors evaluated associations between occupational exposures in the textile industry and the risks of esophageal cancer and stomach cancer. The authors conducted a case-cohort study nested in a cohort of female textile workers in Shanghai, China. One hundred and two workers with incident esophageal cancer and 646 workers with incident stomach cancer diagnosed between 1989 and 1998 were compared with an age-stratified reference subcohort (n = 3,188). Work histories were ascertained for all study subjects from factory personnel records or interviews. Exposures were reconstructed for chemicals and dusts by linking work history data with a job-exposure matrix developed for the Shanghai textile industry.
Hazard ratios and 95 percent confidence intervals were calculated with Cox proportional hazards modeling adapted for the case-cohort design. Risk of esophageal cancer was associated with long-term (≥10 years) exposure to silica dust (hazard ratio = 15.8, 95% confidence interval: 3.5, 70.6) and metals (hazard ratio = 3.7, 95% confidence interval: 1.9, 7.1). Cumulative exposure to endotoxin, a contaminant of cotton dust, was inversely related to risks of both esophageal cancer (p-trend = 0.01) and stomach cancer (p-trend < 0.001) when exposures were lagged 20 years. Endotoxin has not been previously reported to be a protective factor for either stomach cancer or esophageal cancer and therefore warrants further study.