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Nevada Mesothelioma Rates Found to be Elevated

Scientists have recently determined that the incidence of malignant mesothelioma in women and individuals under the age of 55 residing in southern Nevada is higher than would be expected, and they believe that it may be a result of naturally occurring asbestos found in the region’s geologic makeup.

In a study published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, senior author Michele Carbone reports that she and colleagues examined malignant mesothelioma mortality data collected by the Centers for Disease Control by gender, age group, state and counties over a twelve-year period. They found that two southern Nevada Counties, Clark and Nye, showed a higher proportion of women and those under 55 suffering from mesothelioma as compared to other Nevada counties, as well as when compared to the rest of the United States. They believe this is a result of higher levels of carcinogenic materials found in th soil, including actinolite asbestos, erionite, winchite, magnesiorebeckite and richterite. Mesothelioma has been found to be caused by exposure to asbestos, and though it is usually associated with industrial and occupational exposure, the minerals found in the area naturally are likely the cause of the higher incidence.

Asbestos specifically refers to six mineral fibers that were mined for asbestos use, and does not generally reft to the fibrous minerals found in nature. These are found in rocks and soils, and can become airborne through natural erosion, as well as through activities that raise dust from the ground. The researchers found that the proportion of individuals younger than 55 and female was higher in the counties associated with the higher mesothelioma incidence, and as a result the different minerals found naturally in the region are the likely cause of their exposure. The researchers acknowledged that mineral exposure might have come from occupational exposure of spouses and parents bringing home asbestos fibers in their clothing, but that “in southern Nevada there are no major asbestos industries, thus this seems an unlikely hypothesis. Instead, the presence of asbestos and other fibers in the environment of Clark and Nye Counties, where a lower M:F sex ratio and an increased proportion of malignant mesothelioma are seen in young individuals, suggests that some of these malignant mesotheliomas are caused by environmental exposure which can happen when human activities and natural processes such as wind or water release fibers in the air.”

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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