The adverse pulmonary effects of asbestos are well accepted in scientific circles. However, the extrapulmonary consequences of asbestos exposure are not as clearly defined. In this review the potential for asbestos to produce diseases of the peritoneum, immune, gastrointestinal (GIT), and reproductive systems are explored as evidenced in published, peer-reviewed literature. Several hundred epidemiological, in vivo, and in vitro publications analyzing the extrapulmonary effects of asbestos were used as sources to arrive at the conclusions and to establish areas needing further study. In order to be considered, each study had to monitor extrapulmonary outcomes following exposure to asbestos. The literature supports a strong association between asbestos exposure and peritoneal neoplasms. Correlations between asbestos exposure and immune-related disease are less conclusive; nevertheless, it was concluded from the combined autoimmune studies that there is a possibility for a higher-than-expected risk of systemic autoimmune disease among asbestos-exposed populations. In general, the GIT effects of asbestos exposure appear to be minimal, with the most likely outcome being development of stomach cancer. However, IARC recently concluded the evidence to support asbestos-induced stomach cancer to be "limited." The strongest evidence for reproductive disease due to asbestos is in regard to ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, effects on fertility and the developing fetus are under-studied. The possibility of other asbestos-induced health effects does exist. These include brain-related tumors, blood disorders due to the mutagenic and hemolytic properties of asbestos, and peritoneal fibrosis. It is clear from the literature that the adverse properties of asbestos are not confined to the pulmonary system.
|Number of pages
|Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health - Part B: Critical Reviews
|Published - 2011