Study Highlights Mesothelioma Risk Among U.S. Navy Veterans

It has long been known that mesothelioma has a significantly higher incidence among America’s veterans when compared to the rest of the population, and that those who served in the Navy have the highest representation among that group. Now a newly published report prepared by researchers at Vanderbilt University has clearly defined the extent of the risk faced by Navy veterans, and which jobs in the Navy presented the greatest danger.

Study Looks at 114,000 Radiation-Exposed Veterans

Looking at a pool of 114,000 “atomic veterans” who had specifically been exposed to radiation while involved in nuclear testing between 1945 and 1962, the researchers compared the data to more closely examine those who had died of malignant mesothelioma as compared to those who had died of other causes. As published in the International Journal of Radiation Biology, they found that regardless of whether the vets had been involved in testing in the ocean or in the Nevada desert, those that served in the Navy had a significantly higher risk of being diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease. They then took a deeper dive into their data to determine whether specific job responsibilities had a statistically greater risk. The reports authors found that one in five of the veterans worked in jobs that had a high potential for asbestos exposure, and write, “We were able to categorize specific jobs into potential for asbestos exposure based on a detailed database of the military activities of the atomic veterans, developed using historical records provided by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.”

Navy Sailors at Highest Risk for Mesothelioma

Despite the high risk of asbestos exposure across all of the radiation exposures, the researchers found that more than half of those who had died of mesothelioma had been sailors whose job titles included water tender, firefighter, boiler technician, machinist’s mate and pipe fitter. This is in keeping with previously known anecdotal evidence, and has been blamed on the fire-resistant asbestos that was used in Navy ships‘ fabrication, as well as on asbestos-wrapped pipes, insulation in boiler room equipment, as well as in vehicle brakes, transmissions and clutches.

If you or someone you love has a history of exposure to asbestos and has now been diagnosed with mesothelioma, we can help. Contact the Patient Advocates at today to learn more. We can be reached 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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