Countries' Asbestos Use Linked to Mesothelioma Rates

Use of asbestos in 1960s linked to death from asbestos-related illnesses in both sexes

FRIDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- The amount of asbestos a country used in the 1960s is strongly linked to mortality rates from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases in both men and women in 2000-2004, according to an international analysis in the March 10 issue of The Lancet that calls for the elimination of the mineral.

Ro-Ting Lin, M.Sc., of the University of Occupational and Environmental Health in Kitakyushu, Japan, and colleagues calculated the yearly age-adjusted mortality rates by gender for diseases associated with asbestos in 2000-2004 and compared them with the mean per head asbestos consumed by countries in 1960-1969, a time period in which asbestos usage increased in many countries. The analysis included data from 33 countries.

For every unit increase in asbestos consumption, men had a 2.4-fold increase in death from mesothelioma and women had a 1.6-fold increase. In women, historical asbestos consumption predicted mortality for peritoneal mesothelioma, but not pleural mesothelioma or asbestosis. In men, however, the association between asbestos consumption and mortality was especially strong for asbestosis and peritoneal mesothelioma. For all diseases studied, the increase in deaths per incremental increase of asbestos usage was higher in men than women.

"Our results lend support to the notion that all countries should move towards eliminating the use of asbestos," the study authors conclude.

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