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MOL declares 1st occupational disease lung cancer case

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Labor (MOL) recently deemed that a chef that developed adenocarcinoma of the lungs should be considered to be suffering from an occupational disease, the first time such a designation has been given for the condition in Taiwan.

The MOL yesterday said a 51-year-old chef, surnamed Yang, had been working in the kitchen for over 34 years and in 2010 was diagnosed with lung cancer. Yang's doctor suspected that his working environment caused the disease, the MOL said, adding that Yang later applied for subsidies reserved for occupational disease patients.

The ministry said, however, there were not enough studies to prove the correlation between lung cancer and the work of chefs in either domestic or international research.

The ministry said it had been working with the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW) to study similar cases and establish a database in the country over the past two years, noting that, finally, the Committee on Occupational Diseases Appraisal recently recognized that Yang's disease was related to the nature of his occupation.

The MOL further said that the cooking profession requires exposure to oil and smoke over long periods of time and thereby the potential to subsequently develop adenocarcinoma of the lungs.

Noting that the recognition of Yang's case has established adenocarcinoma of the lungs as an occupational disease, the MOL said it has approved Yang's application for subsidies.

Hard to Confirm Occupational Disease: Expert

Gou Yu-liang (郭育良), a professor at National Taiwan University's Institute of Occupational Medicine and Industrial Hygiene, was quoted by the Central News Agency (CNA) as saying that apart from inhaling oil and smoke in the kitchen, smoking cigarettes also correlates to the development of lung cancer.

Gou said, however, the incubation of lung cancer or adenocarcinoma of the lungs may take a long period of time.

The professor went on to say that it is often difficult to prove the correlation between the disease and the occupation, noting that patients are normally exposed in such working environments twice as often as other people, and the incubation of the disease could be at least 10 years.

Gou suggested that employers improve employee working environments and strengthen measures to protect employees' respiratory systems.

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