174,300 Worldwide Suffering from Mesothelioma, More Estimated

According to a study recently published in Environmental Health Perspectives, within a group of 56 countries studied from 1994 to 2008 possessing data on mesothelioma occurrence and asbestos use, 174,300 individuals contracted the deadly disease. Furthermore, the study reports that among the 33 nations who fail to keep records on asbestos and mesothelioma, “approximately 38,900 … mesothelioma cases were estimated to have occurred in the fifteen year period 1994-2008.” In many cases, citizens of these nations receive no information regarding this material, which could help save lives by showing proper handling and exposure techniques. This report is significant because although asbestos has long been recognized as the leading cause of mesothelioma, no concrete number on its global incidence and death toll had yet been established, especially in developing nations that rarely keep such important data. However, this study now allows doctors and scientists to accurately estimate the frequency with which this disease strikes those in developing countries. In the study, the scientists “calculated the 15-year cumulative number of mesotheliomas during 1994-2008 from data available for fewer years, and assessed its relationship with levels of cumulative asbestos use during 1920-1970.” The scientists then used that relationship to predict how many cases of mesothelioma occurred in nations that do not keep records of their patients but do record asbestos use. Nevertheless, the authors explain this “estimation is based on asbestos use until 1970,” meaning that nations who used more asbestos since then “should anticipate a higher disease burden in the immediate decades ahead.” Some developed nations, including Canada, are accountable for this continued use of asbestos as they still produce and export this dangerous material, despite its threat. Furthermore, the Canadian government outlawed the use of the material in its own nation, highlighting a global double standard that accompanies the use of this material. However, the authors conclude that even with a conservative estimate, “globally, one mesothelioma case has been overlooked for every four to five reported cases.” These findings indicate that mesothelioma is indeed an underreported disease, deserving far more attention from the global medical community. Although prevention of mesothelioma involves simply eliminating contact with asbestos, its past popularity in construction throughout the world makes this impossible for many. Therefore, it remains a continued threat, especially in nations without the funds needed to remove it from public structures, leading to the disturbing trends highlighted by this study. References: Park, Eun-Kee et al. (January 6, 2011) “Global Magnitude of Reported and Unreported Mesothelioma.” Retrieved January 25, 2011 from Environmental Health Perspectives. Previous: W.R. Grace & Co. Profitable Despite Asbestos Liability Next: Essential Virginia Government Building Contains Asbestos