Institute report links asbestos exposure to larynx cancer

June 6th, 2006

There is enough scientific evidence to show that asbestos exposure can cause cancer of the larynx, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine. However, it found less compelling evidence that asbestos exposure can cause cancers of the pharynx, stomach, colon and rectum. And evidence of any link between asbestos exposure and esophageal cancer was even weaker.

The report was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, at the request of Senator Arlen Specter. It was undertaken in order to answer questions about compensation for people with asbestos symptoms. Assessing 120 epidemiological studies and 200 experimental studies, it classified evidence into four levels of probability of inferring a link between asbestos exposure and diseases.

Cancer of the larynx (the structure containing the vocal cords) is somewhat rare—approximately 9,500 people are diagnosed annually, of whom approximately 3,740 will die. Smoking and alcohol consumption are principal risk factors, but now it is shown that asbestos exposure increases the risk.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used for decades. But exposure to asbestos has been proven to greatly increase a person’s chance of getting mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer. Every year, nearly 10,000 people (including 3,000 in the United States alone) get a mesothelioma diagnosis. Many of them have chosen to contact a mesothelioma lawyer and file a mesothelioma lawsuit.

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