Asbestos Disease: Colorectal Cancer

17 Aug

There is a fair bit of debate as to whether asbestos exposure causes colorectal cancer — a form of cancer involving the large intestine and rectum.

Colorectal cancer is actually quite common, as it’s the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the United States. In just one year, over 140,000 new colorectal cancer cases were diagnosed and over 50,000 patients died from the disease.

A number of studies have been performed, examining the potential link between on-the-job asbestos exposure and colorectal cancer. Results have been mixed, but there is some compelling evidence to suggest that asbestos causes colorectal cancer.

How Could Asbestos Exposure Cause Colorectal Cancer?

Asbestos is a natural mineral that’s used in industry and manufacturing for its heat-resistant and insulation properties. When ingested or inhaled, the tiny asbestos fibers can get trapped in tissues, causing a range of different health problems, including mesothelioma lung cancer, asbestosis, pleural thickening and many other conditions.

If the asbestos fibers enter the mouth or nose, they can become trapped in mucus or saliva, which is then swallowed. Once swallowed, the asbestos fibers may become embedded in tissues of the gastrointestinal tract. After this occurs, the body may form scar tissue and mount an immune response to the foreign bodies. Over time, this abnormal tissue can turn cancerous, resulting in colorectal cancer.

Studies Linking Colorectal Cancer to Asbestos Exposure

There have been many long-term studies into colorectal cancer from asbestos exposure. One study was performed over the 20-year period from 1982 through 2004, whereby nearly 3900 patients (whom had been exposed to asbestos on the job) were tracked. The incidence of cancer in these individuals was evaluated relative to the statistical norms and researchers found that there was a higher incidence of colorectal cancer in asbestos exposure victims.

Another study was performed from 1943 through 1962. Over the course of this 19-year period, researchers tracked over 600 insulation workers, as this profession has been definitively linked to asbestos exposure. Of those 600 individuals, statistically, a total of just 5.2 should have developed colorectal cancer. But in reality, more than three times that number – 17 in all – were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. This suggests a very definitive link between colorectal cancer and asbestos exposure.

Yet another study revealed that one of the five types of asbestos – amphibole asbestos – had a possible link to colorectal cancer.

While there are multiple studies that suggest a link between asbestos exposure and colorectal cancer, there has been at least one other study that revealed contradictory evidence: the data did not support a causal relationship between asbestos exposure and the subsequent development of colorectal cancer.

While studies have brought some mixed results, virtually all researchers agree that more research is required in this area.

Colorectal Cancer, Asbestos Exposure and Asbestos Trust Funds

At, we understand the complex issues that asbestos exposure victims are facing. In addition to mesothelioma, asbestos exposure can cause many other very serious diseases, many of which can occur in conjunction with mesothelioma. We know how frightening these very serious health problems can be and we understand the toll it takes on your finances and on your family members as well.

A number of different asbestos diseases can qualify you for compensation from asbestos trust funds, expedited Social Security and VA benefits, in the case of mesothelioma veterans. The experienced and knowledgeable team here at MesoWatch is here to help guide you through the process of getting the compensation and benefits you need to maximize your quality of life and bring peace of mind.

It’s important to note that a number of benefits and asbestos trust fund settlements can be obtained without filing a lawsuit, which simplifies and expedites the process for individuals who are facing serious asbestos diseases and illness.