Workers Exposed to Asbestos May Face Increased Risk of Heart Disease
Workers who have been regularly exposed to asbestos may have to worry about more than the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma, say scientists who believe they may have found a link between asbestos and heart disease.
According to a recent study published by the medical journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, researchers indicate that the risk of heart disease doubled in some cases for workers exposed to asbestos on the job, with the danger was highest among female workers.
Researchers looked at 99,000 asbestos workers and found that men had a 63% increased risk of dying from heart disease and the risk for women more than doubled. Researchers adjusted for smoking and other factors, looking at deaths that occurred between 1971 and 2005.
Asbestos was widely used in a variety of manufacturing and construction applications throughout the last century, with use peaking in 1973. Most uses of asbestos were banned in the mid-1980s. When inhaled, asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma cancer, which is found in the lining of the chest and lungs, is the most serious and feared complication from asbestos exposure. It is only know to develop among individuals exposed to the fiber, which can occur from directly working or living around it, or indirectly if the fibers are carried home in the hair or on the clothes of family members. The disease has a very long latency period and is often not discovered until decades after exposure, leading to a limited life expectancy after a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Asbestos litigation is the longest running mass tort in U.S. history, with the first case filed in 1929. Over 600,000 people have filed lawsuits against 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis or other asbestos-related diseases.
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