Laryngeal cancer and occupational exposure to asbestos

  • David A. Edelman
Review Article


The risk of laryngeal cancer associated with occupational exposure to asbestos was evaluated by a review of published reports. In only two of 13 cohort studies was the standardized mortality ratio (SMR) significantly increased. Smoking (a risk factor for laryngeal cancer) may have been more prevalent among asbestos workers than among the comparison populations. This was not taken into account in any of the studies, and may have caused the SMRs to be overestimated. Two of eight case-control studies reported large odds ratios (≥ 13) for laryngeal cancer. Subsequent case-control studies did not confirm this higher risk; the odds ratios in these studies were 0.3 to 1.9. The conclusion of the review, based on data from 13 cohort and 8 case-control studies, is that neither case-control nor cohort studies have established an increased risk of laryngeal cancer for asbestos workers.

Key words

Laryngeal cancer Asbestos exposure 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Berry G, Newhouse ML (1983) Mortality of workers manufacturing friction materials using asbestos. Br J Ind Med 40:1–7Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bianchi C, DiBonito L, Castelli M (1978) Exposition a l'amiante dans le cancer du larynx. Pathologica 70:403–408Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Burch JD, Howe GR, Miller AB, Semenciw R (1981) Tobacco, alcohol, asbestos, and nickel in the etiology of cancer of the larynx: a case-control study. JNCI 67:1219–1224Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Clemmesen J, Hjalgrim-Jensen S (1981) Cancer incidence among 5686 asbestos-cement workers followed from 1943 through 1976. Ecotox Environ Safety 5:15–23Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Enterline PE, Hartley J, Henderson V (1987) Asbestos and cancer: a cohort followed up to death. Br J Ind Med 44:396–401Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Frumkin H, Berlin J (1988) Asbestos exposure and gastrointestinal malignancy. Review and meta-analysis. Am J Ind Med 14:79–95Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Gardner MJ, Winter PD, Pannett B, Powell CA (1986) Follow up study of workers manufacturing chrysotile asbestos cement products. Br J Ind Med 43:726–732Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hammond EC (1966) Smoking in relation to the death rates of one million men and women. In: Epidemiological approaches to the study of cancer and other chronic diseases. National Cancer Institute Monograph 19, pp 127–171Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    The Health Consequences of Smoking (1985) Cancer and chronic lung disease in the workplace. US Government Printing OfficeGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hinds MW, Thomas DB, O'Reilly HP (1979) Asbestos, dental X-rays, tobacco, and alcohol in the epidemiology of laryngeal cancer. Cancer 44:1114–1120Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hodgson JT, Jones RD (1986) Mortality of asbestos workers in England and Wales 1971–81. Br J Ind Med 43:158–164Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Hughes JM, Weill H, Hammad YY (1987) Mortality of workers employed in two asbestos cement manufacturing plants. Br J Ind Med 44:161–174Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Lumley KPS (1976) A proportional study of cancer registrations of dockyard workers. Br J Ind Med 33:108–114Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    McDonald JC, Liddell FDK, Gibbs GW, Eyssen GE, McDonald AD (1980) Dust exposure and mortality in chrysotile mining, 1910–75. Br J Ind Med 37:11–24Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    McDonald JC, McDonald AD, Armstrong B, Sebastien P (1986) Cohort study of mortality of vermiculite miners exposed to tremolite. Br J Ind Med 43:436–444Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Mancusco TF, Coulter EJ (1963) Methodology in industrial health studies. Arch Environ Health 6:36–52Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Morgan RW, Shettigara PT (1976) Occupational asbestos exposure, smoking, and laryngeal carcinoma. Ann NY Acad Sci 272:308–310Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Newhouse ML, Gregory MM, Shannon H (1980) Etiology of carcinoma of the larynx. In: JC Wagner (ed) Biological effects of mineral fibres. IARC, pp 687–695Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Newhouse ML, Berry G, Wagner JC (1985) Mortality of factory workers in east London 1933–80. Br J Ind Med 42:4–11Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Olsen J, Sabroe S (1984) Occupational causes of laryngeal cancer. J Epid Comm Health 38:117–121Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Peto J, Doll R, Hermon C, Binns W, Clayton R, Goffe T (1985) Relationship of mortality to measures of environmental asbestos pollution in an asbestos textile factory. Ann Occup Hyg 29:305–355Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Puntoni R, Vercelli M, Merlo F, Valerio F, Santi L (1979) Mortality among shipyard workers in Genoa, Italy. Ann NY Ace Sci 330:353–377Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Rogot E, Murray JL (1980) Smoking and causes of death among US veterans: 16 years of observation. Public Hlth Rep 95:213–222Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Rothman KJ, Cann CI, Flanders D, Fried MP (1980) Epidemiology of laryngeal cancer. Epid Rev 2:195–209Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Rubino GF, Piolatto G, Newhouse ML, Scansetti G, Aresini GA, Murray R (1979) Mortality of chrysotile asbestos workers at the Balangero Mine, Northern Italy. Br J Ind Med 36:187–194Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Selikoff IJ, Hammond EC, Seidman H (1979) Mortality experience of insulation workers in the United States and Canada, 1943–1976. Ann NY Acad Sci 330:91–116Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Stell PM, McGill T (1973) Asbestos and cancer of the head and neck. Lancet 1:678Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Stell PM, McGill T (1973) Asbestos and laryngeal cancer. Lancet 2:416–417Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Stell PM, McGill T (1975) Exposure to asbestos and laryngeal carcinoma. J Laryng Otol 89:513–517Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Thomas HF, Benjamin IT, Elwood PC, Sweetnam PM (1982) Further follow-up study of workers from as asbestos cement factory. Br J Ind Med 39:273–276Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Zagraniski RT, Kelsey JL, Walter SD (1986) Occupational risk factors for laryngeal carcinoma: Connecticut, 1975–1980. Am J Epid 124:67–76Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Edelman
    • 1
  1. 1.Medical Research Consultants, Inc.GrotonUSA

Personalised recommendations