Preliminary results have been released from a Canadian mesothelioma study, and the conclusions are chilling. Researchers are seeing a slow but steady transition from the disease being almost entirely occupational to a greater number of people being diagnosed following lower, non-work-related exposures to asbestos.
Mesothelioma and Other Asbestos-related Diseases Rising in Women
There was once a time that malignant mesothelioma victims were almost exclusively men, with the few women diagnosed having either worked near asbestos themselves or having family members who worked in asbestos-contaminated environments and unknowingly carried the substance home on their clothing, skin and hair. But the study conducted by the Occupational Cancer Research Centre at Ontario Health has identified a rising trend of diagnosis in women.
According to Paul Demers, director of the center, the study examined data from over 4,000 mesothelioma patients treated between 1993 and 2017. Though the full study, titled Mesothelioma: Epidemiology and Prognosis, will not be released until later this year, Demers said that their initial conclusion is that non-occupational cases represent a “gradual transition, I think, of moving away from being driven by the very high exposures in the past to having more people being exposed at lower levels but still getting cases.”
Lower Level Asbestos Exposure Blamed for Rising Mesothelioma Rates
Though asbestos in high-heat, industrial and construction settings is what’s typically blamed for mesothelioma, an increasing number of patients are pointing to vermiculite insulation or asbestos contamination in talcum powder or ceiling tiles as the cause of their illness. Said one mesothelioma victim, “All these products that it was in, and nobody knew.”
As evidence mounts that mesothelioma victim exposure is coming from non-occupational exposure, there is growing concern about future diagnoses. Speaking of his study’s data, Demers says, “The really high asbestos exposures that people got in workplaces are becoming less common, but lower exposures from asbestos that’s in buildings where people are living in — that’s gradually escaping into the environment — will become more important over time.” Even low exposure can result in cases, Demers says. And, because asbestos can be hard to spot — “these fibres are microscopic in size,” he points out — people may not know that they have been or are being exposed.
Identifying the source of your mesothelioma is an important step in moving towards justice. If you need help or access to resources, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.