Italian Asbestos Study Shows Risks of Both Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer in Exposed Workers

When discussing the extreme risk of asbestos exposure, malignant mesothelioma gets the lion’s share of attention. But a just-published study by Italian researchers suggests that the rare, terminal disease is only part of the story. In looking at the number of asbestos-exposed workers who died of lung cancer and comparing it to the number of mesothelioma victims among the same cohorts, the researchers presented an even starker picture of just how dangerous the mineral is.

Researchers Review 20 Years’ of Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer Deaths

Publishing their findings in the journal Epidemiologia & Prevenzione, researchers from the Department of Epidemiology at the Lazio Regional Health Service and colleagues from other institutions conducted a meta-analysis of previously conducted studies on lung cancer mortality among asbestos-exposed workers. They compared what they found to both the general population and to malignant mesothelioma mortality statistics.  Their goal was to use the information to better understand how many deaths in Italy were caused by occupational exposure to asbestos.

The team reviewed lung cancer and mesothelioma research published between 1999 and 2019, with a specific focus on those who worked with asbestos-cement, in shipyards and on docks, on glass workers, insulators, and miners. They also included the construction sector in their study.

Impact of Asbestos Is Even Greater When Lung Cancer Deaths Are Added to Mesothelioma Deaths

In analyzing their findings, the group found that there was a 1.1 ratio of lung cancer deaths to mesothelioma deaths among those who worked in the cement-asbestos industry, an even higher ratio of 2.7 for those working in harbor settings and 2.8 for those working in construction. As compared to the general population the standardized lung cancer mortality rate for those working with asbestos was 1.37 in men and 1.60 for women, with the highest ratio being experienced by those who worked with insulation. 

The team concluded that “to provide an overall assessment of the impact of the occupational asbestos exposure, it is important to consider lung cancer cases in addition to malignant mesotheliomas.” They noted the significant impact that working in the construction sector has had on Italian deaths and called it “urgent to implement adequate information and prevention strategies, health surveillance of workers, and the appropriate legal framework.”

If you or someone you love was exposed to asbestos and was subsequently diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, the Patient Advocates at can help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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