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Naturally occurring asbestos linked to lung cancer

d his colleagues used California Cancer Registry data to identify 2,908 cases of malignant mesothelioma diagnosed between 1988 and 1997 in adults ages 35 and older. In most cases, the registry also provided occupational history. As a control group, an equal number of age- and gender-matched pancreatic cancer cases was selected (since pancreatic cancer has no known association to asbestos exposure). For both the mesothelioma and pancreatic cancer cases, the researchers employed sophisticated geographic information system mapping to pinpoint home or street addresses for every diagnosed individual. A map from the California Department of Conservation, Division of Mines and Geology, served as the reference for ultramafic rock deposits. Finally, statistical adjustments were made for sex, occupational asbestos exposure and age at diagnosis.

The researchers found that the risk of developing malignant mesothelioma was directly related to residential proximity to a source of ultramafic rock. Specifically, the odds of having mesothelioma fell by 6.3 percent for every 10 kilometers (about 6.2 miles) farther a person lived from the nearest asbestos source. The association was strongest in men, but was also seen in women. No such association showed up in the pancreatic cancer group. The study was not designed to determine the "ground zero" risk for those living closest to an asbestos source - only to test for a relationship between proximity and risk.

"This is very creative, painstaking epidemiology," said Jerrold L. Abraham, professor and director of environmental and occupational pathology at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, and a leading authority on mesothelioma. "The UC Davis researchers have shown a significant association between living near deposits of naturally occurring asbestos and mesothelioma. This is the strongest evidence possible without conducting one-on-one interviews with each diagnosed mesothelioma patient or his or her f
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Source:University of California, Davis - Health System


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