Health, Europe

French health body confirms link between asbestos exposure, cancers of larynx, ovaries

National Health Security Agency recommends recognizing 2 cancers as occupational diseases

Shweta Desai  | 19.09.2022 - Update : 20.09.2022
French health body confirms link between asbestos exposure, cancers of larynx, ovaries


A study published by a French public health body on Monday recommended recognizing the cancers of the larynx and ovaries as occupational diseases after confirming their occurrence due to occupational asbestos exposures.

In its expert appraisal, the National Health Security Agency (ANSES) concluded that there is a proven causal relationship between the risk of occurrence of the cancers of the larynx and ovaries, and occupational asbestos exposure.

“Since asbestos is commonly associated with cancers of the lungs and pleura, neither doctors nor patients make the link with other cancers,” Alexandra Papadopoulos, project manager in the Air Risk Assessment Unit and expert coordinator with the ANSES, said in a statement.

Bronchopulmonary and pleural cancers (mesothelioma) are currently the only ones to be listed as occupational diseases linked to asbestos exposure.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer recognized the causal link between the cancers of the larynx and ovaries, and asbestos exposure in 2012. However, very few health professionals are aware of this information.

The official recognition of these cancers in the occupation disease list will enable patients to be compensated financially, without requiring them to provide proof of the link between cancer and their work.

France banned the production and use of asbestos in 1997. Before that, the material was heavily used in the industrial sector and affiliated areas of work that were affected by occupational exposure. Currently, workers in the construction sector, waste disposal, transport, and agriculture among others are exposed to materials and products containing asbestos.

The expert group from ANSES also recommended further studies and data to document exposure to asbestos among women and its impact on their health.

It is widely believed that women do not have asbestos-related health risks as they are not employed in sectors with heavy asbestos contamination. However, ANSES said there are concerns about health risks among women as sectors like textile and health in which women are overrepresented may be indirectly exposed to asbestos.

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