International analysis of global asbestos epidemic

The March 10 issue of The Lancet published an article on the potential for a global epidemic of asbestos-related diseases. The latency period for cancers such as mesothelioma averages 30-40 years, and asbestos exposures in the 1960’s and 1970’s will be producing disease and debilitating injury in the coming years.

Summary

The potential for a global epidemic of asbestos-related diseases is a growing concern. The study assessed the ecological association between national death rates from diseases associated with asbestos and historical consumption of asbestos.

The study calculated mortality for each disease associated with asbestos (pleural, peritoneal, and all mesothelioma, and asbestosis) in 2000–2004 and asbestos consumption per person 1960–1969.

Historical asbestos consumption was a significant predictor of death for all mesothelioma in men and women, for pleural mesothelioma in men, for peritoneal mesothelioma in men and women, and for asbestosis in men. Clear associations were shown between deaths and historical asbestos exposure, especially for all mesothelioma in men and women, and asbestosis in men. The data strongly support the recommendation that all countries should move towards eliminating use of asbestos.

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