Radiation and Asbestos Fibers: Interaction and Possible Mechanism

  • Tom K. Hei
  • Steve Kushner


The association between exposure to asbestos fibers and the development of bronchogenic carcinoma of the lung and diffuse mesothelioma of the pleura and peritoneum have been well established in both man (1,2) and experimental animals (3,4). Furthermore, cigarette smoking can enhance the incidence of lung cancers in asbestos workers in a synergistic fashion. (5). It is not known for certain whether specific chemicals or the high LET α-irradiation from deposited polonium is the important factor in carcinogenesis by cigarettes and its enhancement by asbestos. Previous studies from this laboratory have found that asbestos fibers, at a concentraction which itself was Ineffective in inducing oncogenic transformation in vitro did potentiate the oncogenicity of low LET ionizing radiation in a supra-additive fashion (6,7). Furthermore, leaching the fibers with acid to remove any possible chemical contaminants did not diminish their ability to enhance the oncogenic transforming potential of radiation (7). These results suggest that the mere physical presence of the fibers is crucial for the observed radiation-fiber interaction.


Asbestos Exposure Bronchogenic Carcinoma Oncogenic Transformation Absorb Dose Rate Asbestos Fiber 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tom K. Hei
    • 1
  • Steve Kushner
    • 1
  1. 1.Radiological Research Laboratory, College of Physicians and SurgeonsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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