Study Shows That One in Four Cases of Mesothelioma Go Unreported
While 56 of the 89 asbestos-using countries track both data regarding asbestos use and the prevalence of mesothelioma, 33 countries only track their use of asbestos. These recent statistics are leading officials to believe that the unreported prevalence of mesothelioma is much greater than originally estimated.
Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer caused by exposure to the toxic, natural fiber asbestos. Whereas the relationship between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma has long been confirmed, many industries and developing countries still rely on the fiber due to its excellent fire-retardant capabilities and rather inexpensive nature. The 89 countries that globally use asbestos collectively reported their use of approximately 124 million metric tons of asbestos, a number that has virtually doubled since 1970. The increase in usage is a direct correlation with the rising number of reported mesothelioma cases. Considering that mesothelioma has a long latency period of 20 to 50 years, those who were exposed decades ago are just now finding signs of this debilitating disease. According to the 2011 study by the University of Occupational and Environmental Health in Japan, over a 15-year span from 1994 to 2008, 174,300 cases of malignant mesothelioma were reported in the 56 countries that have tracked data. On the other hand, 33 asbestos-using countries are left unaccounted for. Mathematics lead researches to believe an estimate of 38,900 mesothelioma cases arose in those 33 countries within the same 15 year period. The study also reported that countries estimated to have the most undocumented cases of mesothelioma include Russia, Kazakhstan, China, India and Thailand. Additionally, the study indicated that for every four to five reported mesothelioma case, one goes undetected. With some countries lacking the ability to track data like this, it is no surprise that the bulk of the unreported cases are in undeveloped countries with poor diagnostic techniques, and in developing counties where large asbestos companies are driven to mask health risks associated with their deadly product. Reference: Park, Eun-Kee. (2010). "Global Magnitude of Reported and Unreported Mesothelioma." Retrieved May 19, 2011 from Environmental Health Perspectives.