New Study Shows Three Million Life Years Lost from Asbestos According to Surviving Mesothelioma

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The global burden of asbestos-related diseases is dramatically illustrated in a new study reported by Surviving Mesothelioma.

The future burden of asbestos-related diseases can be eliminated by stopping the use of asbestos.

A new analysis of data from the World Health Organization, shows that when the problem of mesothelioma and asbestosis, the two most prominent asbestos-related diseases, is analyzed in terms of life years lost, the burden is “substantial”. The study appears in a report on Surviving Mesothelioma.

Researchers in Japan and Indonesia found that a total of nearly 3 million potential life years have been sacrificed to these diseases by more than 141,000 people in dozens of countries. According to their WHO data analysis, 128,015 people died of mesothelioma in 82 countries between 1994 and 2010. During the same period, 13,885 people died of asbestosis in 55 countries.

Mesothelioma is a deadly malignancy that spreads across internal membranes, inhibiting organ function and often, eventually, invading the organs themselves. Asbestosis, also known as pulmonary fibrosis, is a chronic inflammation in the lungs that causes shortness of breath and chest pain and can be fatal. Both mesothelioma and asbestosis are triggered by prolonged or intense exposure to asbestos fibers and can develop decades after exposure.

According to the new study, which appears in a recent issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, people who died of mesothelioma lost a total of 2.81 million potential years of life. That equates to an average of 17 years lost for each mesothelioma patient. The 13,885 people who died of asbestosis lost an average of 13 years of life each, for a total of 180,000 years. The researchers call the Potential Years of Life Lost (PYLL) measurement a “well-established but rather under-utilized” tool for assessing global disease burden and conclude that “The future burden of asbestos-related diseases can be eliminated by stopping the use of asbestos.”

Asbestos has been linked to mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, emphysema, pleural plaques and autoimmune diseases for more than 50 years. Despite the mounting worldwide death toll, many countries continue to mine, import and use asbestos in a range of industrial applications. Asbestos was once prized as an insulator and building material because of its resistance to heat, fire and corrosion. A number of third-world countries still use asbestos because it is inexpensive. The original study appears in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. (Diandini, R, et al, “Potential year of life lost (PYLL) caused by asbestos-related diseases in the world”, June 12, 2013, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Epub head 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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