The United States sees an average of 3,500 people diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma each and every year, and a large proportion of those who have the disease are able to track their asbestos exposure to their days working on ships or in actually building seagoing vessels. That trend is not unique to the United States, however, as a study published recently by the Danish Cancer Society has found similar elevated risks of mesothelioma, as well as two other cancers, among those working in the maritime industry in the region.
Thousands of Nordic Seamen Included in Danish Research Study Targeting Mesothelioma and Other Cancers
The study looked at over 80,000 male seafarers and almost 67,000 male fishermen who had worked in their industries between 1961 and 2005. It found that among that group there were higher rates of malignant mesothelioma, lip and non-melanoma skin cancers than is typically found in the population. The assumption is that the lip and non-melanoma skin cancers came from sun exposure, while the malignant mesothelioma clearly came from exposure to asbestos onboard the ships.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, malignant mesothelioma among those involved in shipbuilding or who lived onboard ships came from exposure to asbestos that was used in the ships’ construction, as well as from asbestos that contaminated many of the materials found onboard the ships. Though asbestos is known today to be carcinogenic, before that was determined it was frequently used to provide insulation and fireproofing.
Mesothelioma and the Shipboard Environment
Another demographic that was impacted by asbestos exposure from living on ships has been those who served in the U.S. Navy and who built Navy ships. In the years prior to World War II through the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, ships and other military applications made extensive use of asbestos, and as a result America’s veterans who served during those years represent roughly one third of all of the country’s mesothelioma victims.
If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and you need information about the resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.