In July of 2019, the United Kingdom’s Health and Safety Executive revealed that the death toll from asbestos exposure had reached crisis levels, with a shocking number of deaths from mesothelioma and asbestosis having been reported in 2017. Most of the cases identified had come from exposure to asbestos in industrial settings: people were exposed either in their workplace or their family members were exposed to the carcinogen that they carried home on their skin, hair and clothing. Now a new report suggests that there are other increasing rates of cancer arising from asbestos exposure, but this time it is affecting those who drank from the nation’s beer supply in the 1970s.
According to scientists, in addition to a rise in the number of cases of malignant mesothelioma in recent years, there has also been a fourfold increase in the number of cases of gullet cancer, and they suspect that this is because breweries used asbestos to filter out impurities. The gullet is the term used in the United Kingdom to describe the esophagus, and according to Cancere Research UK there is a high likelihood that the contamination of the popular adult beverage that occurred during the filtering process has had a direct impact in the increase in incidence of esophageal cancers. Not only did breweries use the material, but some pub owners would keep a supply of asbestos that they would throw into their kegs of leftover beer at the end of the night to refresh it and then serve the next day to their patrons.
Speaking of the theory, Dr. Jonathan Rhodes of the University of Liverpool said, “Asbestos from beer consumed before around 1980 seems a plausible factor.” The statistics are notable, as there has been a slow increase in the cancer over the last five decades, with 9 out of 10 cases diagnosed occurring in men, who are the nation’s biggest beer consumers.
Fortunately, there is currently no indication that food or beverage suppliers in the United States did the same, though there are significant questions being raised about asbestos causing mesothelioma in the users of consumer products made of talc. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease and you need information, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.