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May 26, 1978

Medical News

JAMA. 1978;239(21):2215-2222. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280480007001

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Asbestos exposure and cancer risk: long ago but not far away  Expect a major increase in asbestos-related diseases in the general population, warn officials of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The NCI is preparing a publicity campaign to inform the public and physicians that exposure to asbestos—particularly asbestos fibers and dust—will increase the risk of cancer, especially pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma and cancer of the esophagus, lungs, stomach, colon, and rectum, as well as asbestosis.Because asbestos fibers and dust remain in the lungs long after inhalation, tissue exposure and the risk of disease rise as the length of time since exposure increases. Intensity of exposure directly relates to the risk of disease.The majority of deaths from asbestosis are due to intercurrent infections superimposed on the disease. Thus, use of antibiotics is beneficial.Yet in patients with asbestosis who smoke, the risk of lung cancer skyrockets. Warnings to