Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 2307 12
M. Crystal
  • Alcohol
  • Cancer (esophagus)
  • Exposure (asbestos)
  • Smoking
  • Steelworker (millwright)

The worker was a millwright at a steel mill. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 1987, and died in 1988 at age 54. The worker's estate appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying the worker entitlement for the cancer.

The main potential workplace exposure, associated with development of esophageal cancer, was to asbestos. However, the evidence indicated that the worker's exposure was only occasional and incidental to his employment, and was not sufficient for entitlement pursuant to the Board policy on gastro-intestinal cancer in asbestos workers. Further, there was no persuasive evidence that the other workplace exposure, to coke oven emissions, contributed significantly to the development of the worker's cancer.
The worker had a 35 pack year history of smoking, which would increase the worker's risk of esophageal cancer by a factor of between 4.5 and 5.2. In addition, the worker drank alcohol, including about four beers per day, as well as rye. Even based on alcohol consumption of 28 drinks per week, the risk of esophageal cancer would be increased by a factor of 3.9. Also, there was evidence of increased risk by the combined effects of smoking and alcohol that was nearly multiplicative, which would bring the worker's increased risk to a factor of about 17. Thus, the history of smoking and alcohol consumption imposed a significant risk for esophageal cancer.
The worker did not have entitlement for esophageal cancer. The appeal was dismissed.