Research Article

Unsuspected exposure to asbestos and bronchogenic carcinoma.

Br Med J 1977; 1 doi: (Published 19 March 1977) Cite this as: Br Med J 1977;1:746
  1. K M Martischnig,
  2. D J Newell,
  3. W C Barnsley,
  4. W K Cowan,
  5. E L Feinmann,
  6. E Oliver


    Two hundred and fifty men admitted to a thoracic surgical centre and matched controls were questioned in detail about their occupations after leaving school and their smoking habits. Of 201 men with confirmed bronchial carcinoma 58 gave a history of occupational exposure to asbestos, whereas only 29 out of 201 men matched for age and residential area who were admitted with other diseases gave such a history. This difference was statistically highly significant. The usual association of bronchial carcinoma with heavy smoking was observed, but asbestos exposure increased the risk of carcinoma whatever the level of smoking. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that asbestos exposure and the level of smoking act independently in causing bronchial carcinoma. The patients with carcinoma who had been exposed to asbestos presented on average three years earlier than those who had not been exposed. Asbestos regulations have eliminated the risk of exposure to workers in scheduled industries, so asbestos-induced diseases will probably be increasingly found among the many workers who have had incidental exposure to asbestos. It is therefore important to take a full occupational history.