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Mesothelioma Risk Doubled for Australian Men Living in Asbestos-Contaminated Homes

This tragic history of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma is by no means limited to the United States. In fact, in some countries the carcinogen’s impact goes far beyond what has happened here. Most exposures that occurred in the U.S. arose from occupational exposure, impacting people who worked with asbestos in factories, shipyards, on construction sites and in oil refineries. By contrast, in Australia the material was widely used as loose fill in residential properties during the 1970s, most notably by a contractor known as Mr. Fluffy. A recent study conducted by the Australian National University Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health found that men who lived in a Mr. Fluffy house have two and a half times the risk of being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma as those who lived in a house that did not have the loose asbestos insulation installed.  There is also a link between the insulation and the incidence of colorectal cancers and prostate cancers.

The Mr. Fluffy houses have been an area of concern in Australis for years. The insulation was used in at least 1000 homes during the 1970s, then was the subject of a massive cleanup at the end of the 1990s. The government has now begun a project of entirely demolishing the homes that it first attempted to decontaminate after finding that the homes still had substantial amounts of the carcinogen within their sub-floors and all cavities. 

Malignant mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. When the fibers are either inhaled or ingested, they become embedded in the cells of the mesothelium, which are organs that line the abdomen and lung cavities of the body. Once the asbestos fibers become trapped in human cells they are nearly impossible to dislodge. They eventually cause cell death and mutations that grow into malignant tumors.

The study only found the higher rate of mesothelioma in men living in the homes: it is thought that women would not have been as exposed to the asbestos because they were not as likely to have entered the roof space of the homes where the asbestos was located. It is notable that the study showed that the association with living in a Mr. Fluffy house, though high, was not as high as that found from occupational exposure.

Whether your exposure came from inside your home, at work, or from the environment, mesothelioma is a life changing disease. If you need any information on resources available to help you deal with your diagnosis, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today. We can be reached at  1-800-692-8608.

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