Mesothelioma is a rare and fatal form of cancer that is caused by exposure to the carcinogenic mineral asbestos. Though many women are diagnosed with the condition, it is far more common in men, and this is largely due to the fact that asbestos was most frequently used in male-dominated occupational settings such as steel mills, shipyards, mining and construction.
However, a new study published in the Italian medical journal La Medicina del Lavoro points to a new source for asbestos exposure that has previously been unrecognized. The report indicates that women who work in cloth doll factories have been shown to have a higher risk of developing mesothelioma, and this leads to suspicions of asbestos exposure in garment factories, cotton plants, and other textile-related industries.
The study was conducted in an Italian provide known as Brescia, which has been tracking the incidence of mesothelioma for almost 25 years. Researchers had identified over 750 cases of the rare cancer by 2016, three of whom were women who had worked in doll factories.
All three were diagnosed with the same type of mesothelioma – malignant pleural epithelial mesothelioma – and all three had been previously classified as having an unknown source for their condition.
A closer examination showed that two of the three worked in the same cloth doll factory, and an autopsy using electronic microscopy to examine the asbestos that was present in her lung tissue showed an asbestos concentration that reflected industrial-grade exposure. As a result, her case was reclassified as “occupational-certified” exposure.
In most cases, women who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma have presented something of a mystery for those who are trying to identify the source of their disease. In many cases it has proven to have come from laundering their husbands’ or sons’ work clothing where the men worked in asbestos-exposed environments.
In other cases, the source has been identified as environmental if they lived in an area close to an asbestos mill or mine, or even in a school or hospital setting where asbestos was utilized in the construction of their workplace. The fact that asbestos may have been present in textiles opens a new source for exposure, and raises questions about liability in the owners and suppliers of textile factories.
Mesothelioma is a painful condition that always leads to death. Facing a diagnosis is a challenge, but there are resources available for medical, financial, and emotional support. For more information, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today. We can be reached at 1-800-692-8608.