Asbestos Exposure Linked to Throat Cancer

Cancer of the larynx can now be added to the frighteningly long list of ailments directly associated with asbestos exposure. The larynx is the portion of the throat that contains the vocal cords, and recent studies prove that those exposed to asbestos have a 40% greater chance of laryngeal cancer on average than those without notable exposure.
The studies consistently found that asbestos is a probable cause of laryngeal cancer, which takes thousands of lives every year. Asbestos attorneys warn those inflicted with laryngeal cancer to consider past possible asbestos expose as a potential cause. Exposure may have occurred through occupational exposure (construction, shipbuilding, automotive repair, textiles, etc), natural deposits, or by living in close vicinity to a plant that manufactured asbestos or asbestos-containing material.

Laryngeal cancer is 16th in incidence and mortality among American men, and higher among African American men. The male predominance reflects that occupational exposures to asbestos usually occur in industries where most workers are male. The most significant risks associated with laryngeal cancer are cigarette smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, and now, asbestos exposure. Smoking is especially damaging; the independent effect of tobacco on this form of cancer is greater than any other factor. Unlike mesothelioma and lung cancer, two ailments that have been causally linked to asbestos exposure for over 40 years, the survival rate of laryngeal cancer is relatively high.

A recently released report assessed cohort and case-control studies of laryngeal cancer. The larger cohort studies consistently show increased risk of laryngeal cancer in asbestos-exposed workers employed in a wide array of industries and in a large cohort of workers with asbestosis.

Most of the case-control studies made some attempt to control for tobacco and alcohol consumption in examining the association between asbestos exposure and laryngeal cancer. Several case-control studies that stratified on tobacco-smoking observed higher risk among men who were exposed than in those not exposed to asbestos.

Several factors contribute to the biologic plausibility that asbestos may cause cancer of the larynx. The larynx, like the lung, is anatomically in the direct path of inhaled asbestos fibers. Inflammation or damage of the vocal folds could disrupt laminar airflow and influence to the deposition and accumulation of asbestos fibers in the larynx. Squamous-cell carcinomas of the lung and larynx have histological and clinical similarities. Tobacco-smoking is the most important risk factor for both sites. Asbestos exposure is an established cause of lung cancer.

On the basis of theoretical considerations, tobacco-smoking, alone or in combination with alcohol consumption, may predispose to the accumulation of asbestos fibers in the epithelial lining of the larynx. The committee concluded that the evidence is sufficient to infer a causal relationship between asbestos exposure and laryngeal cancer.

In a population-based case-control study on laryngeal cancer in South-West Germany, occupational exposures and other risk factors were obtained by face-to-face interviews using a detailed standardized questionnaire. They covering the complete individual working history, supplemented by job-specific questionnaires especially for selected jobs known to entail exposure to asbestos. Detailed exposure information was collected over a wide range of asbestos related jobs and branches and analyzed using different modeling strategies.

In this University of Heidelberg study, 73 (28.4%) cases and 158 (20.5%) controls reported any exposure to asbestos. Elevated risk estimates for asbestos exposure were found. They concluded that moderately elevated risks for laryngeal cancer after exposure to asbestos were confirmed.

Recently in Washington D.C., the Senate asked the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, to research this causal association. The panel researched 35 studies and found nine that reported similarities between cancer of the larynx and of the lung. They concluded that those who are most highly exposed to asbestos were 2.57 times more likely to develop cancer of the larynx than unexposed groups. The overall risk was 1.40 times higher.

Asbestos cancer lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm urge those affected by laryngeal cancer to seek legal assistance. We understand the devastating effects of a cancer diagnosis, and offer free legal consultations to all of our potential clients. We only get paid if we get you a settlement.

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