The use of asbestos-containing materials in the 1970s in breweries may be responsible for an increase in oesophageal cancers.
The materials were used to filter out microscopic particles that affected the taste and quality of beer.
When the liquid dried or was aged, the particles were released into the air. There are even claims that some pubs added asbestos-containing materials to stale beer to remove impurities so that it could be served instead of wasted.
Scientists at the University of Liverpool and the University of Cambridge believe that the exposure caused an increase in the number of cases of oesophageal cancer four-fold.
Dr Jonathan Rhodes, from the University of Liverpool, explained that: ‘Asbestos from beer consumed before around 1980 seems a plausible factor.’
Cancer Research UK (equivalent to the Cancer Council here) claims that there are as many as 25 new cases of cancer daily, making it the 14th most common cancer in the UK, with 90 per cent of new cases of the last 50 years being diagnosed in men.
There is some criticism of the claims, due to the volume of asbestos-containing material that people could have been exposed to in the 1970s and 80s, while some have postulated that men could have higher rates of cancer due to exposure to asbestos-containing materials in construction and other trades jobs.
The British Beer and Pub Association’s Andy Tighe said: ‘It’s difficult to associate health impacts from any one potential source.’