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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

“Asbestos is a risk factor for pharyngeal and laryngeal cancer.”

Asbestos lawyers will find of interest the following abstract from AACR’s spring 2013 meeting. The abstract is now posted online and is pasted below. The researchers include two from Brown University. Both are interested in epigenetics, a topic that toxic tort lawyers will find increasingly relevant. Dr. Kelsey heads up a lab and Dr. Langevin is a post-doc working in the Kelsey lab. Their work also includes looking at epigentic changes related to such cancers. The abstracts states:

"Asbestos describes a group of naturally occurring silicate mineral fibers that were frequently used in industry during the 20th century due to their desirable flame retardant and tensile properties. Although use has fallen over the last three decades, exposure continues and the burden of disease is considerable. The primary routes of exposure to the fibers include inhalation and ingestion. Asbestos is a known risk factor for several malignant respiratory diseases, including lung cancer and mesothelioma, and has more recently been implicated in pharyngeal and laryngeal cancer. However, studies of asbestos and cancers of the larynx or pharynx with adequate sample-size and control for other risk factors for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) such as smoking and drinking habit remain somewhat sparse. We report findings from a case-control study consisting of 934 incident HNSCC cases from the greater Boston region and 1180 population-based controls, frequency matched on age (+/- 3 years), sex, and town or neighborhood of residence. Study subjects completed a self-administered questionnaire that provided detailed data on history of asbestos exposure, sociodemographics and personal characteristics, alcohol and tobacco use, personal and family cancer history, and other relevant dietary, occupational, residential and medical exposures. Occupational asbestos exposure was dichotomized as exposed or never exposed based on self reported occupation data. Multivariate unconditional logistic regression was used to assess the association between asbestos exposure and HNSCC, overall and by primary tumor site and smoking history. A total of 217 cases (23.2%) and 226 controls (19.2%) reported an occupational exposure to asbestos. We observed a borderline association of asbestos exposure and laryngopharyngeal cancer (OR = 1.23, 95% CI: 0.95-1.59), adjusted for age, sex, race, smoking, alcohol consumption, and education. After stratifying by smoking history, a significant association was observed between asbestos exposure and laryngopharyngeal cancer among ever-smokers (OR = 1.36, 95% CI: 1.00-1.84). These observations are consistent with the mounting evidence that asbestos is a risk factor for pharyngeal and laryngeal cancer.

[abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 104th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2013 Apr 6-10; Washington, DC. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2013;73(8 Suppl):Abstract nr 3627. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2013-3627

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