Asbestos linked to cancer of the voice box

According to research carried out by the Institute of Medicine in the U.S. another cancer has been linked to asbestos.

The report says that exposure to asbestos can cause cancer of the voice box, or larynx.

The U.S. Senate had asked the Institute of Medicine to investigate the link between asbestos and cancers of several organs currently listed in stalled legislation in order to create a $140 billion asbestos injury compensation fund.

But it is unclear whether the findings will force lawmakers to further amend the bill to exclude some cancers that could not be definitively linked to the fibrous mineral.

A Senate Judiciary Committee is currently discussing a revised version of the legislation which would expand eligible claimants to New Yorkers exposed to asbestos from the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, as well as people exposed to construction debris in last year's Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

However committee Chairman Senator Arlen Specter who co-sponsored the bill, says helpful though the review is, a more definitive answer to the possible causal connection between asbestos and pharyngeal, stomach and colorectal cancers is needed.

Asbestos was widely used worldwide in building insulation and other products until the mid-1970s, and has long been considered a cause of lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer of tissue lining the lung and other organs.

Inhalation of its fibers has also been linked to other diseases and problems often take years to manifest themselves.

The suggested legislation would remove asbestos injury suits from the courts and claimants with occupational exposure to asbestos would be compensated from a trust fund financed by asbestos companies and their insurers.

Thousands of lawsuits have forced at least 70 companies into bankruptcy already.

Other companies say they are being asked to contribute too much to the fund, which they say could quickly run out of money and see claims revert to the courts.

In its report, the Institute found consistent evidence of asbestos-linked larynx cancer in a number of studies of both workers and the general population.

The American Cancer Society estimates about 9,500 American will be diagnosed this year with cancer of the larynx, that can also be caused by smoking and alcohol abuse.

Although asbestos fibers also pass through the colon, rectum, stomach and throat, but it is unclear how they interact with certain cells.

The Institute of Medicine researchers say though they found sufficient evidence to infer a causal relationship between asbestos exposure and laryngeal cancer, they did not find enough evidence to conclude asbestos causes cancer in the esophagus.

They also say there was insufficient evidence to infer a causal relationship between asbestos exposure and pharyngeal, stomach, and colorectal cancers.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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