Sabtu, 29 Maret 2008

Carpenters at Greatest Risk of Asbestos Related Cancer

If ever a reminder was needed of the damaging impact exposure to asbestos has had on industrial workers in the UK, it came in the form of new research published in the British Journal of Cancer recently. Funded by Cancer Research UK and the Health and Safety Executive, the largest global study of its kind into the affects of asbestos exposure found that in some professions, such as carpentry, up to 1 in 10 workers could be expected to develop asbestos related cancers, such as lung cancer or mesothelioma.

The study interviewed more than 2000 people born in the 'baby boomer' generation in the 1940's to determine the rates of asbestos-related disease in various professions. For those who worked as carpenters for more than 10 years before they were 30, the researchers calculated that the risk of developing mesothelioma over their lifetimes was about 1 in 17. When the likelihood of developing lung cancer caused by asbestos was added in, the overall risk to this group of developing some form of asbestos related cancer was 1 in 10.

It was not just carpenters in this age range who had an elevated risk of mesothelioma and lung cancer, the risk for plumbers, electricians and decorators was also well above the rate for the rest of the population. Perhaps one of the most worrying findings of the study was that during the post war period, around two thirds of men and a quarter of women had worked at some point in a job where there was a potential for them to be exposed to asbestos dust.

Speaking about the findings of the study, the lead researcher, Professor Julian Peto, who is based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "The UK has the highest death rate from mesothelioma in the world. The risk is highest in people who were exposed to asbestos before age 30. By getting some information on all the jobs people had ever done we have shown that the risk in some occupations, particularly the building industry, is higher than we previously thought. New regulations introduced in 1970 reduced exposure to asbestos in factories but heavy exposure to the much larger workforce in construction and various other industries continued."

As the press release from the Health and Safety Executive announced, there are currently around 2100 new diagnosis of mesothelioma each year in the UK, with around 5 times as many cases in men as in women. This number is expected to rise in the next few years, as cancers such as mesothelioma often take many decades to develop. Government compensation schemes have been set up so that those affected by exposure to asbestos who go on to develop cancer will receive some financial assistance, although in many cases by the time these claims are processed, the sufferers have already succumbed to the cancers.

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