Beer poisoned with asbestos in the 1970s could have caused an increase in gullet cancer cases, scientists say.
The deadly fibres were used in breweries, along with cotton, to filter out microorganisms that harm the drink’s quality.
But asbestos became weak when it was old and dried out, releasing dangerous particles into the air.
Certain pubs even added asbestos to left-over beer to remove impurities ready to serve again.
This exposure caused cases of gullet cancer to increase four times, scientists at the universities of Liverpool and Cambridge believe.
According to Cancer Research UK, there are 25 new cases of gullet cancer, also known as oesophageal cancer, every day and it is the 14th most common cancer in the UK.
A total of 90 per cent of tumours were present in men – compared to ten per cent in women – in the last 50 years.
Dr Jonathan Rhodes, from the University of Liverpool, told The Sun: ‘Asbestos from beer consumed before around 1980 seems a plausible factor.’
But critics suggest that other food production processes also used the poisonous substance.
The British Beer and Pub Association’s Andy Tighe said: ‘It’s difficult to associate health impacts from any one potential source.’