Study Supports Link Between Asbestos Exposure and Colon Cancer

Colon Cancer Risks Increase With Asbestos Exposure

NEW HAVEN, CT — November 11, 2005 — A recent study provides new evidence that occupational exposure to asbestos may increase the risk of developing colon cancer (Am J Epidemiol 2005 Nov 1; 162(9): 868–78. Epub 2005 Sep 21). This is in line with some earlier studies suggesting that colon cancer risk increases with cumulative doses of asbestos (Br J Ind Med. 1990 Sep; 47(9): 602–10; Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1979; 330: 91–116).

Researchers at Yale University School of Medicine looked at 2 groups of men who were enrolled in CARET, the Beta–Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial that examined the effects of vitamin A and beta carotene intake on lung cancer. One group consisted of 1,839 smokers who had been exposed to asbestos, generally as insulators, sheet metal workers, plumbers, ship fitters, or electricians. The other group consisted of 7,924 heavy smokers who had not come into contact with asbestos. The medical histories of these men were followed over a 12–year period.

The risk of colon cancer increased progressively after 10 years of on–the–job asbestos exposure until the 30–year mark was reached. At that point, the risk no longer increased. The asbestos–exposed smokers had a 36% higher rate of colon cancer compared with the heavy smokers who were not exposed to asbestos. Asbestos–exposed smokers who had pleural abnormalities had a 54% increased risk of colon cancer compared with the heavy smokers with no asbestos exposure. A pleural abnormality was defined as a problem with the pleura or membrane surrounding the chest and lungs. It may include pleural thickening, plaques or calcification.

The researchers pointed to the theory that when asbestos is inhaled, some fibers may clear the lungs, then get swallowed into the stomach or be distributed via the blood system. These fibers may eventually penetrate the colon wall, leading to tumor formation. They concluded that workers who have been exposed to asbestos should be screened for colon cancer on a regular basis, especially those who are also smokers.

Asbestos Colon Cancer Lawsuits

Brayton Purcell has been successfully representing asbestos victims since 1984, including those who developed colon cancer from asbestos exposure. We have successfully tried asbestos related colon cancer cases, with juries returning verdicts of over $3.4 million (Ralph Pierce v. Certainteed Corporation) and $1 million (Merle Sandy v. Exxon Mobil Corporation).

Please contact our asbestos attorneys if you have been exposed to asbestos and developed colon cancer - we will answer your questions, explain your legal choices, and review your potential case free of charge.