Publication

Asbestos: Selected Cancers


Released:

The use of asbestos in many products surged during the 20th century, and asbestos exposure continues despite a sharp reduction in production since the 1980s. Asbestos is an established cause of mesothelioma, an uncommon cancer that arises in the mesothelial cells lining the chest and abdominal cavities, and of lung cancer. It also causes non-malignant respiratory diseases, including asbestosis, a fibrotic disorder of the lung.

In addition, the findings of some epidemiologic studies of asbestos-exposed workers have suggested that exposure to asbestos may increase risk of other cancers.

This Institute of Medicine committee was charged with evaluating the evidence relevant to the causation of cancers of the pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, and colon and rectum by asbestos and with judging whether the evidence is sufficient to infer a causal association.

The committee concluded that the evidence is:

  • sufficient to infer a causal relationship between asbestos exposure and laryngeal cancer;
  • suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship between asbestos exposure and pharyngeal, stomach, and colorectal cancers; and
  • inadequate to infer a causal relationship between asbestos exposure and esophageal cancer.