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Report on cancer risks associated with the ingestion of asbestos.
Lemen R; Meinhardt T; Becking GC; Cantor K; Cherner JH; Cordle F; Groth D; Keller C; Lybarger J; McConnell E; Millette JR; Patel Y; Sonich-Mullin C; Tollefson L
Environ Health Perspect 1987; 72:253-265
A report prepared by the Subcommittee on Risk Assessment, Committee to Coordinate Environmental and Related Programs, Department of Health and Human Services on the potential cancer risk associated with ingestion of asbestos (1332214) was presented. The report was based on an evaluation of the published literature. The topics discussed ambient asbestos pollution of drinking water, asbestos contamination in food or pharmaceuticals, recommended sampling techniques for detecting asbestos in water, the toxicology of asbestos, and epidemiological studies of asbestos. Although some studies in laboratory animals have shown a nonstatistical excess of colon cancer and an increase in the number of benign gastrointestinal tract tumors, most have not provided convincing evidence of an association between asbestos ingestion and cancer. Some studies have indicated that ingested asbestos fibers can penetrate tissues. Epidemiological studies of the cancer risk of ingested asbestos were reviewed. All epidemiological studies except one were geographical or ecological correlation studies that did not have the statistical power to detect a slight increase in risk associated with asbestos ingestion. The one nonecological study did not establish a definite association between asbestos ingestion and cancer risk. Problems related to performing an assessment of the cancer risk from asbestos ingestion were discussed. The authors conclude that on the basis of the published studies, a credible assessment of the cancer risk associated with asbestos cannot be made. Any elevated cancer risk would be hard to detect. The upper bound would probably be only 10% above background. Swallowing inhaled fibers may present a greater risk of gastrointestinal cancer than ingesting asbestos.
NIOSH-Author; Asbestos-fibers; Risk-analysis; Foodstuff; Malignant-neoplasms; Drinking-water; Environmental-exposure; Asbestos-products; Epidemiology; In-vivo-studies; Laboratory-animals
Environmental Health Perspectives
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Page last reviewed: September 22, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division