Increasing Mesothelioma Rates Among Older Adults and Women Linked To Low, Non-Occupational Exposures: Study

The rate of mesothelioma diagnosis for older adults and women appears to be linked to non-occupational and low-level exposures to asbestos, according to the findings of an upcoming study which may signal the rise of cases among individuals who did not directly work with the toxic substance before it was banned.

Researchers with the Occupational Cancer Research Centre at Ontario Health completed a study this summer, titled Mesothelioma: Epidemiology and Prognosis, which is awaiting publication. However, reports indicate it will highlight a rise in mesothelioma rates among the elderly and women who were not exposed to asbestos at work.

Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer, which is only known to occur as a result of exposure to asbestos particles. It typically takes decades after exposure to asbestos before the cancer is diagnosed, by which time it is typically at a very advanced and difficult to treat state.

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Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Exposure to asbestos can cause the development of mesothelioma. Lawsuits have been filed nationwide against asbestos manufacturers.

Over the recent decades, cases have been most commonly seen among individuals who regularly worked with asbestos or products that may have exposed them to the fibers. However, a growing number of individuals have also been diagnosed with mesothelioma from secondary asbestos exposure, including family members of those who worked in certain industries, where fibers were carried home on their clothing or in their hair.

While early reports of the findings of this new study do suggest that most mesothelioma cases are still linked to work-related exposures, the rates of diagnosis are clearly increasing among the elderly and women who were not directly exposed due to their job.

Researchers looked at data from the Canadian Cancer Registry from 1992 to 2015, examining incidence rates, annual numbers of cases, tumor characteristics and demographics. They then projected the future incidence in Canada, based off their data, to 2067.

According to reports of the findings, the per-population rate of developing mesothelioma has plateaued, but as the occupational exposures have dropped, rates of mesothelioma among the elderly and women has increased. The researchers suggest some of these are due to the development of mesothelioma due to low levels of exposure, particularly from things like buildings where people live which are contaminated with asbestos that is slowly escaping into the atmosphere.

However, researchers warn there is no system to track non-occupational cases of mesothelioma, preventing researchers from collecting a lot of the much-needed environmental data on where the low level of exposures are occurring.

The center that conducted the study is expected to release a full summary of its findings before the end of the month.

Asbestos lawsuits have been one of the longest-running mass torts in the United States, involving thousands of claims brought against companies that manufactured or sold products containing the substance.

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