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Study Shows Mesothelioma Trend in Areas Near Asbestos Factories

A recent study performed by a team of Italian scientists with wide-ranging specialties pertaining to public safety, health, and epidemiology has found a link between malignant mesothelioma diagnoses and geographic location. Specifically, it was found that areas near factories that produced asbestos-containing materials tended to have remarkably high numbers of mesothelioma diagnoses being made within them.

Malignant mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of cancer that typically afflicts people who were exposed to asbestos dust over the long term. The illness may stay asymptomatic for many years before a victim begins to feel ill, and often by the time it is diagnosed it is already in the later stages.

The data was collected over a 15-year time period

Data regarding mesothelioma diagnoses were collected via recording incident cases and performing individual interviews all over Italy during a 15-year time frame, between the years of 1993 and 2008. The information was then calculated using a research method known as “spatial cluster analysis,” in which geographic pockets showing a high incidence of mesothelioma cases can be noted and mapped out.

What the data show

The data collected showed that there were more than 30 “clusters” across Italy where mesothelioma cases were particularly prevalent. Moreover, these clusters of diagnoses tended to be geographically near to areas where asbestos-containing materials were manufactured or handled on a regular basis in the past, such as asbestos cement plants and shipyards, where many asbestos-laced shipbuilding materials would have been used in the building and repair of vessels.

Further evidence pointing to the deadliness of asbestos exposure

The findings of the Italian study serve to further show the hazardous nature of asbestos. In areas where asbestos was or is common and friable—able to become airborne—the fibrous mineral can be inhaled or ingested by victims, where it becomes embedded in the internal organs or body cavity. The particles then irritate these areas, causing diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma cancer.

What the results may mean for other nations

Asbestos exposure is not limited to being an occupational hazard—the Italian findings showed that mesothelioma cancer also occurs in people who resided near areas where asbestos was in the air. Just as Italian mesothelioma cases were found to cluster around areas where friable asbestos was prevalent, other countries may find similar results if mesothelioma diagnosis data were amalgamated and analyzed.

Source: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2407/15/286

Tamara VanWormer

Tamara VanWormer is a writer and editor based in southern California, in a small town adjacent to the United States border with Mexico. Her career path was dappled with dabblings in various fields, including several years spent in healthcare, which gave her access to the latest information about cutting-edge cancer research and sparked her interest in mesothelioma diagnosis and care.

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