Asbestos fibers in ovarian tissue from Norwegian pulp and paper workers

Int J Gynecol Cancer. 2007 Jan-Feb;17(1):44-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1438.2006.00768.x.


An elevated risk of ovarian cancer has been observed in Norwegian pulp and paper workers who were possibly occupationally exposed to asbestos. The present study was initiated to investigate if the increased risk could be associated with asbestos fibers in ovarian tissue from workers in this industry. Normal ovarian tissue specimens from three groups of women were included in the study. The case group included specimens from 46 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the period 1953-2000, and who had been working in one or more pulp and paper mills between 1920 and 1993. Normal ovarian tissue specimens from two control groups without occupational history from pulp and paper work were selected from the Cancer Registry database. Tissue blocks were digested and prepared for transmission electron microscopy. Number of fibers per gram wet weight was calculated. Asbestos fibers were found in normal ovarian tissue from two subjects in the case group, while no fibers were found in the control groups. The two asbestos positive cases had been working as paper sorter/packer and chlorine plant worker, respectively. Both were possibly secondary exposed to asbestos from family members working as insulators. We conclude that the findings in this study did not allow drawing any firm conclusion about an association between occupational exposure to asbestos and ovarian cancer in Norwegian pulp and paper workers. Our study confirms that asbestos fibers may reach the ovaries and demonstrates that the applied method is appropriate for identification of the fibers.

MeSH terms

  • Asbestos / chemistry
  • Asbestos / pharmacokinetics*
  • Asbestos / poisoning*
  • Asbestos, Amphibole / pharmacokinetics
  • Asbestos, Amphibole / poisoning
  • Asbestos, Crocidolite / pharmacokinetics
  • Asbestos, Crocidolite / poisoning
  • Asbestos, Serpentine / pharmacokinetics
  • Asbestos, Serpentine / poisoning
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Industry
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Ovary / metabolism*
  • Ovary / pathology
  • Paper


  • Asbestos, Amphibole
  • Asbestos, Serpentine
  • Asbestos, Crocidolite
  • Asbestos
  • anthophyllite