High Mesothelioma Risk from Volcanic Mineral Exposure

Villages in Turkey with exposure to volcanic mineral fibrous zeolite have high levels of the disease

THURSDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- High levels of mesothelioma in some Turkish villages is associated with environmental exposure to the volcanic mineral fibrous zeolite, according to a study in the March 15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Y. Izzettin Baris, M.D., of Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey, and Philippe Grandjean, M.D., Ph.D., of Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, conducted a study of three villages on the Anatolian plateau in Turkey, two exposed to erionite, a form of zeolite, and one nearby control village. The total study population included 891 men and women aged 20 or older, of which 230 were in the control group.

In the 23-year follow-up period, there were 372 deaths, 119 of them from mesothelioma. In the exposed villages, mesothelioma accounted for 44.5 percent of all deaths, including 17 cases of peritoneal mesothelioma and the remainder pleural mesothelioma. In the control village there was only one case of each type of mesothelioma, and both subjects had not been born in the village.

The results produced an incidence rate of 200 and 700 cases per 100,000 people in each of the exposed villages, compared with 10 cases per 100,000 people in the control village.

"Our results emphasize the severity of the mesothelioma endemic in erionite-exposed areas of Turkey," write the authors, who call for "intensified prevention of mesothelioma by limiting environmental exposures to these fibers."

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