Exposure to asbestos in the place of work, mainly in shipyards, has long been known as a risk factor for mesothelioma, an uncommon kind of cancer having an effect on the lining of the lung. However in the new study, researchers discovered a consistent and dose-dependent connection between mesothelioma and residential proximity to ultramafic rock, the main source of naturally occurring asbestos.
To place the mesothelioma risk in perspective, the illness is in charge for about the same number of lung cancer deaths yearly as passive smoking. According to National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health statistics, in the United States approximately 2,500 people a year die from mesothelioma. According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency statistics, approximately 3,000 deaths from the disease are attributed to exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke yearly.
Asbestos-linked lung disease arose at very high rates toward the middle of the 20th century, when sufferers who were exposed decades earlier to asbestos ultimately developed disease. British asbestos workers were amongst the first who were detected to suffer lung cancer linked to asbestos. A dose-response association subsists both for the degree of asbestos exposure and the sum of cigarette smoking.
The risk of the cancer and mesothelioma raises with the amount of fibers inhaled. Though the majority asbestos-linked cancers are related to the intensity and duration of exposure, reports in medical journals have connected a number of mesotheliomas to short exposure periods, on the order of months.
Cigarette smoking leads to nearly all lung cancers, but long-term exposure to asbestos is a cause of the disease as well. However, individuals who smoke and have been exposed to asbestos have a very high risk of expanding the disease.