Study: Asbestos Disease Patients Younger Now

New findings from the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) show that asbestos disease patients are almost 20 years younger than asbestos patients 20 years ago.

Examining case reports from the past 3 years, ADAO determined that the typical new patient is, on average, 51 years old, while half of new patients are women. In addition, ADAO said it collected anecdotal evidence indicating that patients newly diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer are as young as under the age of 40 – and even more disturbing, have had no direct occupational exposure to asbestos.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1990 published a study showing that a typical asbestos patient was male and approximately 70 years old. The study concluded that approximately 50 percent of asbestos patients had occupational exposure. Other studies estimated that 80 percent of patients were men.

ADAO asserted that the patient profile revealed in the 1990 CDC study “no longer represents the patient of today.” The organization pointed to findings made by the Columbia University Mesothelioma Center in New York City that are similar to ADAO's recent conclusions.

“The average age of our peritoneal mesothelioma patients is 51.7,” said Dr. Robert Taub, Milstein professor of clinical medicine and director of the Columbia University Mesothelioma Center. “And less than 50 percent had immediately recognizable asbestos exposure.”

Patients in Their 20s and 30s Have Contacted ADAO

According to Linda Reinstein, executive director and co-founder of ADAO, fathers and mothers in their late 20s and 30s are contacting the organization in search of medical resources and support because they recently have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.

"Our patient profile program will continue as asbestos exposure and deaths continue to claim more lives,” Reinstein said. “Prevention is the only cure for asbestos diseases."

The organization recently testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works as part of an expert panel during a hearing that focused on the health effects of asbestos.

Lawmaker Urges Asbestos Ban

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who introduced the Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2007, said she hopes that the United States follows the examples of 40 other industrialized nations that already have banned the production and importation of asbestos.

“We need to help U.S. companies embrace new, greener approaches today,” Murray said.

In her testimony, Reinstein pointed out that number of asbestos-related cases is spiraling out of control. According to ADAO, studies estimate that during the next decade, 100,000 victims in the United States will die of an asbestos-related disease – equaling 30 deaths per day.

“It is time to eliminate asbestos exposure, while simultaneously investing in research for a cure and improved treatments,” Reinstein said.

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