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Mesothelioma cases significantly under reported worldwide

An important article epublished today in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) reports that for every four to five reported cases of mesothelioma worldwide, at least one case goes unreported. This is the first study to provide an estimate of unreported cases of mesothelioma, and to show the true cost of asbestos use in the global enviornment.

Authors Eun-Kee Park, Ken Takahashi Tsutomu Hoshuyama,Tsun-Jen Cheng, Vanya Delgermaa, Giang Vinh Le and Tom Sorahan examined the relationship between asbestos use by country from 1920 through 1970 and mesothelioma deaths reported between 1994 and 2008. Cumulative asbestos use in 89 countries, which accounted for more than 82 percent of the global population in the year 2000, totaled more than 65 million metric tons during 1920–1970. The United States, Russia, United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan led the group in asbestos use. For the 56 countries also reporting mesothelioma data, there were approximately 174,300 such deaths during 1994–2008.

A country’s cumulative use of asbestos in prior years was found to reliably predict mesothelioma deaths in the countries reporting mortality data. In this study, these statistics are extrapolated to the 33 countries not reporting mesothelioma data. It is estimated 38,900 additional cases may have occurred in these countries during that same 15-year period. These countries, including Russia, Kazakhastan, China, India and Thailand have quintupled asbestos use during this period.

Developed countries must share experience and technology to enable developing countries to promote accurate diagnosis, reporting and management of asbestos related diseases including mesothelioma. But that in itself is insufficient. As the authors of this study emphasis, “political will is essential to ensure that asbestos use ceases globally”

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