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Revisiting Study Revises Mesothelioma Risk for Brake Mechanics

Scientific studies that are commissioned by corporations with vested interests are notoriously suspect. Just as the sugar industry can’t be trusted to release an unbiased study on the effects of candy or soda, studies on the impact of asbestos that are ordered by asbestos employers have to be taken with a grain of salt. That is the upshot of recent allegations by two researchers who worked on a 2007 report on the risk of mesothelioma among automobile brake mechanics. David Egilman, MD and Ruben Monarrez, BA were from Harvard and Brown Universities respectively back in 2007 when they worked on an Australian study published in the journal Occupational Medicine. That report was backed by General Motors Corporation, Ford Motor Company and Daimler Chrysler. All three had a vested interest in proving that those who were exposed to asbestos from working on contaminated brake linings were not at increased risk for malignant mesothelioma, and that was what the study concluded. The researchers recently released their own report indicating that the study results could not be trusted because of the way that the data was manipulated.

The original study compiled data that had been collected from the Australian Mesothelioma Surveillance Registry.  Brake mechanics are exposed to asbestos frequently because it is used in both brake drums and clutches. In the process of removing brake parts, cleaning them out, and grinding down new brakes, asbestos fibers are easily inhaled. Once they become embedded in the cells of the lungs and their lining, they become nearly impossible to dislodge, and can cause cell death, mutations, and the eventual growth of mesothelioma tumors as well as other asbestos-related diseases.

The new report, titled “Corporate Corruption of Science – Another Asbestos Example“, was published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. In it the authors write, “Asbestos mining and product manufacturing companies have manipulated medical literature to avoid paying compensation to injured workers for over eighty years. This company-sponsored research was not designed to protect worker health but rather to defend automobile manufacturing companies in litigation.”

There are some occupations that are notably more at risk for exposure to asbestos, and people who have worked in those jobs need to pay special attention and be vigilant about their health. If you worked as a brake mechanic, in the construction industry, in shipyards or any other environment that was contaminated with asbestos, you need to make sure that your physician is aware of your work history. For more information about the risks and symptoms of mesothelioma, or for access to important resources that can help you deal with this disease, call 1-800-692-8608 to speak to Mesothelioma.net‘s compassionate Patient Advocates. We are here to help.

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