Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)
DEATH OF A LEGEND... EDDIE VAN HELEN
Eddie Van Halen, the legendary lead guitarist for the band Van Halen, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 65 from throat cancer. The rock star, who had been battling the disease for at least the last five years, passed away at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California. This was not the musician's first bout with cancer, having been diagnosed with tongue cancer in the early 2000s.
Van Halen said he believed he developed tongue cancer from metal guitar picks he held in his mouth during his concerts. However, oncologist say it is 'highly unlikely' that plectrums caused the disease and point to the rocker's long history of smoking and heavy alcohol use as more probable sources.
Oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers most often occur on the tongue, in the tonsils and other parts of the mouth such as the cheeks.
In an interview with Billboard Magazine, Van Halen revealed he received treatment in 2000 for tongue cancer that had spread to his esophagus. He said he had one-third of his tongue surgically removed two years later and was subsequently declared cancer-free.
Despite being a life-long smoker-turned-vaper, Van Helen said he was not certain cigarette caused his cancer.
“I used metal picks - they're brass and copper - which I always held in my mouth, in the exact place where I got the tongue cancer,' he said. 'Plus, I basically live in a recording studio that's filled with electromagnetic energy.
'So that's one theory. I mean, I was smoking and doing a lot of drugs and a lot of everything. But at the same time, my lungs are totally clear. This is just my own theory, but the doctors say it's possible.' However, physicians told Dailymail.com it is highly unlikely that Van Halen developed cancer from placing metal picks into his mouth.
'This is highly unlikely. There is no good evidence to support this notion,' said Dr. J. Trad Wadsworth, vice-chair of Moffitt Cancer Center's Head and Neck-endocrine Program, in a statement.
What's more, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not list brass nor copper as potential occupational carcinogens. Dr Caitlin Mcmullen, a surgeon in Moffitt's Head and Neck Oncology Programme, says than oral cancer can be caused heavy smoking and alcohol use.
Van Halen, who began drinking at age 12, said he struggled with alcoholism for years and said, during the Billboard interview, that at one point he needed alcohol to function. He entered rehabilitation in 2007 and had been sober since 2008. 'There are some patients who do not smoke or drink that develop oral cancer and we do not know why,' Mcmullen told Dailymail.com.
'However, it is vastly more common that smoking and heavy alcohol use cause this disease in patients with these habits.'