This study aimed to determine the prevalence of dyspeptic symptoms and premalignant gastric lesions in coal miners and sex matched population control subjects. Retired coal miners and men from the general population in north Nottinghamshire were sent a dyspepsia questionnaire to fill in, and those with upper gastrointestinal symptoms were invited for gastroscopy and biopsy. A total of 1272 men from the general population and 2099 retired coal miners aged 50-75 years took part in the study. Some 977 of 1272 (76.8%) control subjects and 1715 of 2099 (81.7%) miners replied to the questionnaire. A total of 308 of 977 (31.5%) controls and 620 of 1715 (36.2%) miners were positive for at least one symptom. There was a highly significant difference between the numbers of surface mine and underground workers who reported dyspeptic symptoms (66 of 300 (22%) v 425 of 1083 (32.2%) of p < 0.0001). Histology showed that significantly more miners than controls had acute on chronic gastritis (22 v 11%; p = 0.01) and intestinal metaplasia (23 v 8%; p = < 0.0001). Coal miners may be a suitable group for gastric premalignancy screening using an upper gastrointestinal symptom questionnaire and upper gastrointestinal endoscopy.
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