Industrial Chemical May Be Human Carcinogen

-- Rick Ansorge

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 21 (HealthDay News) -- The chemical 2-mercaptobenzothiazole (MBT) -- a vulcanizing agent in the rubber manufacturing industry, corrosion inhibitor in auto radiator and metalworking fluids, and stabilizer in the manufacture of plastics -- may be carcinogenic, according to an article published online Jan. 21 in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Tom Sorahan, Ph.D., of the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, analyzed mortality and cancer incidence in 363 MBT-exposed men who were employed at a chemical factory in north Wales between 1930 and 1988, including 136 men who were still alive at the study's conclusion in 2005.

Compared to the general population, the investigator found that the subjects had significant excess mortality from cancers of the large intestine and bladder, non-significant excess mortality from lung cancer, significant excess morbidity for bladder cancer and multiple myeloma, and non-significant excesses for cancers of the large intestine and lung. Compared to 1,797 chemical factory workers who were not exposed to MBT, the researcher reports that cumulative MBT exposure was associated with a positive trend toward cancer of the large intestine and multiple myeloma.

"Studies of other workers exposed to MBT in its manufacture or use would also be most helpful to test two new hypotheses: MBT exposure in humans increases the risk of (1) cancer of the large intestine, and (2) multiple myeloma," Sorahan writes. "Such studies will take time to implement. In the meantime, perhaps MBT should be handled with increased care as it may be a human carcinogen."

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Specialties Cardiology
Diabetes & Endocrinology
Internal Medicine
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