Asbestos Found in Gallbladders of Mesothelioma Patients

Italian researchers just published a new study of two deceased elderly patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma and problems with their gallbladders and biliary tracts, finding that asbestos was present in the victims’ gallbladders and that analysis suggested that it had migrated there through connective tissue. The scientists wrote that observing the presence of the asbestos in the gallbladder is an important step toward understanding the link between asbestos exposure and gallbladder disorders.

Asbestos May Be Linked to Cancers throughout the Body

Asbestos is a known carcinogen. Lung cancer and mesothelioma (cancer of the lining around the lungs, heart, abdomen or testicles) are the best known asbestos-related cancers. While inconclusive, some studies suggest that asbestos exposure may also be linked to higher risk of other cancers: gastrointestinal, colorectal, throat, kidney, esophagus and gallbladder, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Researcher Observations

The new study was published in the January Journal of Microscopy. The subjects of the study were from a region in Italy with known asbestos contamination from prior use in a local cement factory of asbestos that had been quarried in the area. The asbestos fibers could be seen in thin cross-sections of the gallbladders using advanced scientific microscopy equipment. The fibers were identified as asbestos of the chrysotile and crocidolite types.

A Plausible Link

Mesothelioma is caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers into the lungs, from which the tiny, sharp particles migrate into the pleura, or lining sac around the lungs. The new study suggests the possibility that the fibers can continue to migrate beyond the pleura and into other organs like the gallbladder, suggesting a possible explanation for the existence of gallbladder problems like gall stones in many mesothelioma patients.

The research did conclude, however, by stating that while the nature of the fibers found in the patients’ gallbladders were such that they could have been inhaled, they also could have been ingested or transported via the movement of body fluids.

The scientists say that more research into this important topic should be conducted. At our firm, we support ongoing medical research into the diseases and disorders impacted by patients’ exposure to asbestos. Our clients with asbestos-related illnesses may benefit from important discoveries yet to come.