Study Shows Heavy Asbestos Exposure May Prompt Earlier Disease Development
Scientists have long proclaimed that any amount of exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma – even just short, casual exposures. That’s certainly been proven to be true.
Nonetheless, it still often takes decades for the disease to appear.
But a recent joint study by Italian and American researchers has shown that heavy exposure may indeed prompt a diagnosis of mesothelioma at a much earlier age than if the exposure was small.
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina and the National Tumor Institute in Milan, upon studying multiple cases, came to the conclusion that victims of mesothelioma who are diagnosed at a younger age are more likely to have suffered heavy exposures to the toxic mineral.
When examining nearly 600 cases of individuals with malignant pleural mesothelioma, the researchers also took into account factors such as gender, tumor location and type, and whether they had been exposed to asbestos as children.
However, those factors didn’t seem to change the obvious conclusion for the study authors.
“For both measures of asbestos in lung tissue, younger age at diagnosis was associated with higher internal measures of exposure to asbestos,” states Italian researcher Tommaso A. Dragani, lead author of the paper that was recently published in an issue of the journal, Carcinogenesis. “None of the other variables considered was associated with age at diagnosis.”
Those facts also led the researchers to believe that heavy exposure may do more than “plant the seed” for mesothelioma. They came to the conclusion that such exposure may also “drive the growth” of the disease, prompting individuals to develop mesothelioma much more quickly than someone who only suffered short-term or very small amounts of exposure to the carcinogen.
“Our finding that tumors become clinically apparent at a younger age in heavily exposed subjects suggests that asbestos is involved not only in malignant mesothelioma tumor initiation but, somehow, also in the progression of the disease,” the authors emphasized.
Such a study demonstrates that individuals who worked in industries such as construction, steel mills, textile factories, chemical plants, and other places where asbestos was abundant are perhaps more likely to be diagnosed at an earlier age.
While mesothelioma is often thought of as an old man’s disease, there are indeed victims who have been diagnosed in their 50s or 60s rather than their 70s and 80s.
If their work-related background and habits were to be studied, according to this most recent research, it is likely that their exposure was extensive.
Dragani, TA, et all, “Malignant mesothelioma diagnosed at a younger age is associated with heavier asbestos exposure”, June 30, 2018, Epub ahead of print