Research Reveals Lower Asbestos Exposure No Protection Against Mesothelioma, According to Surviving Mesothelioma

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A study of nearly 60,000 men finds that even low levels of asbestos exposure in the work environment may be enough to trigger mesothelioma and other cancers.

Asbestos levels encountered at the lower end of the exposure distribution may be associated with an increased risk of pleural mesothelioma.

Surviving Mesothelioma is reporting on new research that suggests that industrial workers at the lowest levels of the asbestos exposure spectrum may still be at risk for deadly mesothelioma, lung cancer, and laryngeal cancer.

The study, published recently in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, used data from the long-running Netherlands Cohort Study of 58,279 Norwegian men between 55 and 69 years old. To determine the association between asbestos risk and cancer, researchers compared each man’s job history to asbestos-exposure matrices of various occupations. They then compared likely levels of asbestos exposure to the incidence of mesothelioma and several other cancers.

After 17.3 years of follow-up, there were 132 cases of mesothelioma, 2,324 cases of lung cancer, and 166 cases of laryngeal cancer. Although it is very rare, mesothelioma is considered the most deadly of the asbestos-linked cancers because of its fast progression and resistance to standard treatments. Of the three types of cancer studied, only two subtypes – lung adenocarcinoma (a form of non-small cell lung cancer) and glottis cancer (a subtype of laryngeal cancer affecting the vocal chords) – were associated with higher levels of prolonged asbestos exposure.

For mesothelioma and all other categories of lung and laryngeal cancer, even lower levels of asbestos exposure were enough to trigger disease. “Asbestos levels encountered at the lower end of the exposure distribution may be associated with an increased risk of pleural mesothelioma, lung cancer, and laryngeal cancer,” the researchers conclude.

The U.S. EPA has stated that all levels of asbestos exposure are potentially risky. They have strict guidelines governing the handling and disposal of asbestos and recommend that do-it-yourself home renovators hire asbestos abatement professionals in order to minimize their mesothelioma risk.

The original study appears in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the journal of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. (Offermans, NS, et al, “Occupational Asbestos Exposure and Risk of Pleural Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer, and Laryngeal Cancer in the Prospective Netherlands Cohort Study”, December 17, 2013, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Epub ahead of print.

For nearly ten years, Surviving Mesothelioma has brought readers the most important and ground-breaking news on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma. All Surviving Mesothelioma news is gathered and reported directly from the peer-reviewed medical literature. Written for patients and their loved ones, Surviving Mesothelioma news helps families make more informed decisions.

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Michael Ellis
Cancer Monthy
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