Asbestos causes between 150 and 170 laryngeal and ovarian cancers each year in France, according to ANSES

According to ANSES, the scientific elements “advocate in favor of the creation of tables of occupational diseases for cancers of the larynx and ovary”.

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Asbestos is the cause of certain cancers of the larynx and ovary. This is confirmed by a report from the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (Anses) published on Monday 19 September. This report was commissioned by the Ministries of Health and Labor. On franceinfo, Alexandra Papadopoulos, scientific coordinator at ANSES, reveals that asbestos, which has been banned since 1997, still causes “between 150 and 170 cases each year of cancer of the ovary or larynx”. She also pleads for better recognition of these cancers as an occupational disease.

franceinfo: How many people get sick each year from asbestos?

Alexandra Papadopoulos: According to our estimates, there are between 150 and 170 cases each year of cancer of the ovary or larynx which would be attributable to asbestos. The Agency’s expert appraisal work is based on the work of the International Agency for Research on Cancer published in 2012 and more recent scientific publications. This made it possible to establish this proven causal link between cancer of the larynx or ovary and exposure to asbestos.

What is the typical profile of these patients suffering from these asbestos-related cancers?

There are different occupational sectors with exposure to asbestos. The best known remain the construction industry, metallurgy and construction. But there are other sectors concerned which are much less known, these are all the professions exercised in relatively old and dilapidated buildings, which in fact expose to asbestos. These are all trades in public administration, education, health with hospitals that have asbestos vinyl tile floors. There is also the textile industry in which women are the most represented, with framing, spinning or weaving work in which they are very exposed to asbestos.

Should the recognition of these cancers as an occupational disease be facilitated, or even become automatic?

Yes, all the scientific evidence argues in favor of creating occupational disease tables for laryngeal and ovarian cancers, which would facilitate this recognition. This would also make it possible to compensate patients better and automatically without the claimant having to prove the link between his illness and his occupational exposure.

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