The overwhelming majority of asbestos discussion seems to relate to exposure to male workers. However, women have also suffered immensely from exposure to dangerous asbestos materials, and should not be forgotten. One interesting study entitled “A Study of the mortality of female asbestos workers” by Muriel L. Newhouse, G. Berry, J. C. Wagner, and Mary E. Turok Br J Ind Med about a mortality of female asbestos workers. Here are the exceprts:
- The study involved over 900 women employed at an asbestos factory making both textiles and insulation materials is described. all the women who started employment at the factory between 1936 and 1942 and the main analysis was of mortality up to the end of 1968.
- This analysis was made in relation to job, length of exposure, and age at first exposure.
- Compared with national rates there was excess overall mortality among those who worked in jobs with low to moderate exposure partly accounted for by deaths from cancer.
- In the group with severe exposure, who had worked in the factory for less than two years, there was an excess of cancer of the lung and pleura.
- the most marked increased mortality was in those with severe exposure who had worked for more than two years in the factory; in this group there were excess deaths from cancer of the lung and pleura, from other cancers, and from respiratory diseases.
- were no significant trends of excess mortality with age at first exposure. The smoking habits of some of the deceased women were obtained and the indications were that the proportion of smokers in the cohort was higher than the national rate.
This could account for some of the excess mortality but the trend of this excess with exposure indicated the role of asbestos. Necropsy reports and/or histological material were obtained for 43% of those who had died. Three deaths registered as cancer of the pleura were identified as pleural mesothelial tumours; in all there were 11 mesotheliomas, six of pleural and five of peritoneal origin.
Another study entitled “Asbestos, dental x-rays, tobacco, and alcohol in the epidemiology of laryngeal cancer” by M. Ward Hinds, Md, David B. Thomas, Md, and H. P. O’Reilly regarding asbestos exposure. Here are the excerpts:
- 47 laryngeal cancers in males of three counties of Washington State was conducted.
- To obtain information on smoking, alcohol use, exposure to asbestos, and other substances, and x-rays of the head and neck area, personal interviews were conducted.
- risk of laryngeal cancer independently, with a clear doseresponse relationship increased by smoking and alcohol consumption.
- Neither asbestos exposure nor exposure to other substances was found to significantly increase the risk of laryngeal cancer, although the relative risk with asbestos exposure was 1.75.
- Lifetime history of exposure to dental x-rays on five or more occasions was associated with significantly increased risk of laryngeal cancer among heavy smokers but not among light smokers.
The importance of tobacco and alcohol in the epidemiology of laryngeal cancer was re-affirmed, the importance of asbestos exposure was brought into question, and a possible relationship of laryngeal cancer with exposure to dental x-rays among heavy smokers was demonstrated.