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Asbestos Exposure and Prostate Cancer: What We Know So Far

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

Exploring the Potential Relationship between Asbestos Exposure and Prostate Cancer


Prostate cancer is a prevalent and concerning health issue affecting men worldwide. While the primary causes of prostate cancer remain under investigation, recent studies have raised questions about the potential link between asbestos exposure and an increased risk of developing this form of cancer.


In this article, we delve into the topic, examining the available research and shedding light on the current understanding of this relationship.


What is Asbestos and How Does Exposure Occur?

Asbestos, a cancer-causing mineral, consists of heat, electricity, and corrosion-resistant fibers. These qualities make it useful in various products but also contribute to its toxic nature when exposed. Inhaling or ingesting asbestos leads to fiber entrapment in the body, causing inflammation, scarring, and cancer over time.



Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma and also results in a lung disease called asbestosis.


The International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the EPA all categorize each form of asbestos as a carcinogenic material. Asbestos can be classified into two groups based on its main types: amphibole and serpentine, comprising a total of six varieties. If you would like to know more about check the article: Types of Asbestos article.


Occupational and environmental risks

High risk group_industrial worker_possibly exposed to asbestos
High risk groups possibly exposed to asbestos

According to the data provided by Asbetstos.com, The Agency for Toxi Substances & Disease Registry described that approximately 27 million workers were exposed to aerosolized asbestos products from 1940 to 1979. The risk from asbestos persists nowadays on 1.3 million works on construction and industry sites.

Occupations at high risks

Automative Repair

Chloralkali Production

Building and Equipment Maintenance

Renovation and Demolition

FireFighting

Sheet Gasket Use

Oilfield Brake Block Repair

Family members of absbestos industry works may be exposed to secondhand exposure by bringing asbestos on their hair, skin or clothes. The danger is lurking closer than we think. Even iconic landmarks like Grand Central Terminal in New York can be a place where asbestos exposure may occur. Historically, the Superfund site at Libby, Montana, has witnessed the tragic deaths of hundreds of residents due to asbestos exposure. As a result of these instances of exposure, approximately 39,000 Americans die each year from asbestos-related diseases. These cases demonstrate that indirect exposure, not just direct exposure, can be hazardous. If you want to learn more about this topic, visit Occupational Asbestos Exposure to explore further details.


Association between Asbestos Exposure and Malignant Disease

Asbestos exposure can lead to various diseases, some of which are directly caused by asbestos fibers and others that are associated with asbestos exposure. Here is a list of asbestos-related diseases:

  • Asbestosis

  • Mesothelioma

  • Lung cancer

  • Laryngeal cancer

  • Pleural plaques

  • Pleural effusion

  • Pleural thickening

  • Ovarian cancer

Especially, mesothelioma, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and laryngeal cancer are highly related with asbestos. Possibly linked malignant diseases are also pharyngela cancer, stomach cancer, and colon cancer. Asbestos can cause benign and malignant disease.


Does Asbestos Exposure Cause Prostate Cancer?

The relationship between asbestos exposure and prostate cancer is a complex one that is still being studied. Some studies have shown a possible link between the two, while others have not. Laura et. al. reported in 2015 that prostate cancer death rates were two times higher in the asbestos exposed workers than unexposed group. (2) Kari et. al. examined the risk of asbestos exposure correlated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. They found that higher incidence of prostate cancer was found among Finnish 23,285 men. Moreover, Standardized incidence ratios (SIR) is relatively high (1.21) compared to normal group. (3)


Given these circumstances, it cannot be conclusively determined that there is no association between prostate cancer and asbestos exposure.


While there is no definitive evidence establishing a direct causal link between asbestos exposure and prostate cancer, research suggests a potential association. Understanding this topic is crucial for both individuals at risk and healthcare professionals. By staying informed and promoting awareness, we can contribute to early detection, effective prevention strategies, and improved outcomes for those affected by prostate cancer.


*This article was created in collaboration with Asbestos.com.


Reference

(1) “Can Asbestos Exposure & Prostrate Cancer Be Linked?” Mesothelioma Center - Vital Services for Cancer Patients & Families, 19 June 2023, www.asbestos.com/cancer/prostate/.

(2) Van den Borre, Laura, and Patrick Deboosere. “Enduring Health Effects of Asbestos Use in Belgian Industries: A Record-Linked Cohort Study of Cause-Specific Mortality (2001–2009).” BMJ Open, vol. 5, no. 6, 2015, https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2014-007384.

(3) Koskinen, Kai, et al. “Incidence of Cancer among the Participants of the Finnish Asbestos Screening Campaign.” Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, vol. 29, no. 1, 2003, pp. 64–70, https://doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.706.


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