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Study shows link between asbestos, range of disorders

According to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Company, children exposed to asbestos may suffer more wide-ranging problems than mesothelioma and lung cancer.

The report concerns a study in which researchers from Western Australia analyzed health data from nearly 2,500 children who lived at Wittenoom, a now-abandoned town where crocidolite, or “blue asbestos,” was mined for nearly 20 years.

The results indicate that exposure to blue asbestos in early childhood elevates the risk of a range of cancers and even heart disease in adulthood.

For women who spent a childhood at Wittenoom, the risk of mesothelioma — a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity — was 70 to 113 times greater than the general population’s. They also had roughly four times the risk of brain cancer and three times the risk of ovarian cancer.

The increase in risk of mesothelioma was slightly lower in men than in women, but men also showed an increased risk of brain, colorectal and prostate cancer, and leukemia.

The risk of mesothelioma and lung cancer are well-documented among people exposed to asbestos.

But the study results also suggested a slightly elevated risk of heart disease and “nervous disorders” among children exposed to blue asbestos. “Nervous disorders” refers mainly to conditions such as meningitis that were diagnosed while the children were still living at Wittenoom.

The report quotes a co-author of the study as saying that other research in England and America has suggested a possible link between childhood asbestos exposure and heart disease.

But the numbers in the Australian study were small, and research was complicated by difficulties in accurately measuring individuals’ exposure to asbestos. Another complicating factor may have been the fact that many of the study subjects still live in rural and remote areas, where mortality from heart disease is higher than in urban areas

If you or a loved one have contracted mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure, contact Lopez McHugh for a free consultation.

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