Asbestos Now Linked with Ovarian Cancer

“WASHINGTON, DC—Asbestos is a well known carcinogen that consists of long, thin fibers that were widely used before being banned in the 1970s. Various infrastructures contain this heat-, chemical-, and electricity-resistant material because it is cost-efficient. Exposure to it leads to various asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Asbestos, once damaged, is inhaled and then becomes lodged in the organs and their outer linings, like the mesothelium, becoming inescapable. Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer which is linked to asbestos exposure. It fills the mesothelium with excess liquid and, due to its long latency period—which can be upwards of 50 years—it is incurable by the time it is diagnosed.

Researchers and doctors alike are aware of asbestos’s effect on the lungs, especially, but also the stomach and heart. Now the World Heath Organization has substantial evidence to link asbestos to ovarian cancer.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research reconfirmed the link between asbestos, lung cancer and mesothelioma. The agency also announced its discovery of a connection between ovarian cancer, and cancer of the larynx, with the poisonous fiber.

Former assistant United States Surgeon General Dr. Richard Lemen, who also serves as a witness to various asbestos-related trials—such as the well-known W.R. Grace trial which is currently taking place in Montana—said in a statement that the IARC’s connection of asbestos to ovarian cancer “will have far-reaching implications to all women exposed to asbestos.”

More men than women have typically been exposed to asbestos at the workplace, since the occupations that are associated with asbestos-containing products, such as construction, mechanical work, and shipbuilding, are traditionally male-dominated fields. Women, however, may experience secondhand exposure to asbestos when they are married to or caring for an asbestos worker. One recent landmark case in Australia awarded the widow of an asbestos worker damages for her own mesothelioma diagnosis.

The confirmation by IARC—the world’s leading cancer research agency—that all forms of asbestos, including its most commonly used form of asbestos, chrysotile, cause lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, and mesothelioma, leave no doubt that the prevailing medical evidence is irrefutable as to asbestos’s carcinogenicity. The new findings that there is sufficient evidence that asbestos also causes ovarian cancer … begins a new chapter in the prevention of asbestos-related cancer,” announced Lemen.”