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Recent study links asbestos to digestive cancers

This blog has often discussed the health risks for people in North Carolina of exposure to asbestos. We have discussed many studies that demonstrate that airborne asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis and a variety of cancers and the lung disease known as asbestosis. Now, a recent study from France that has been published in a respected peer reviewed medical journal provides evidence that asbestos also causes a variety of cancers that affect digestive organs.

The study used health records of 2,024 people who worked in an asbestos plant in France from 1978 to 2009. No one will be surprised to learn that the studied workers suffered from mesothelioma at a rate far higher than the general public. However, the study also found that 119 of the workers were diagnosed with cancer of various digestive organs, a rate that exceeded persons in the same region who had never been exposed to asbestos-containing products.

The causal link between asbestos and cancer was strongest for colorectal cancer. One of the study's authors noted that "a significant excess of risk was observed for men with exposure duration above 25 years." Women in the study were found to have a "significantly elevated" rate of peritoneal mesothelioma, a form of cancer that is even rarer in the general population than the mesothelioma that affects the lungs. The study also found a causal relationship between asbestos and esophageal cancer and a "possible association" between asbestos and small intestine and liver cancers.

The period covered by the study, 1978 to 2009, shows that asbestos exposure continues to be a significant environmental health hazard long after the material ceased to be used in new construction. People who have been exposed to asbestos on the job or in other environments may wish to have a physical examination to determine whether they suffer from an asbestos-caused disease. Anyone who has received, or has loved one who has received, a positive diagnosis for any of the asbestos-related diseases may wish to talk to an attorney who specializes in asbestos cases. Such a consultation may provide a helpful evaluation of the facts of the case and the probability of recovering damages from the parties that are responsible for the exposure.

Source: Surviving Mesothelioma, "Beyond Mesothelioma: Asbestos Linked to Digestive Cancers," Alex Strauss, Aug. 29, 2015

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