Important facts and statistics on asbestos cancer
Before we get into the facts and statistics for asbestos cancer, what is asbestos cancer? Asbestos cancer can mean mesothelioma (pleural, peritoneal, pericardial, or testicular), lung cancer, or any of the gastrointestinal, reproductive, or other kinds of cancer that researchers have associated with asbestos. (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/
Years of research have established that inhalation exposure to asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma in humans and animals. (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/
toxprofiles/tp61-c3.pdf) Some evidence suggests that inhalation exposure to asbestos increases the risk of cancer at other sites as well—notably, gastrointestinal cancer, from ingestion as a result of inhalation, or ingestion from asbestos-contaminated drinking water. (ATSDR)
Weitz & Luxenberg makes these facts and statistics on asbestos cancer available in the hopes that through greater awareness of the risks and realities of asbestos exposure, those who have been harmed by asbestos exposure can make informed legal and medical decisions, and those who have not been personally affected by asbestos cancer will learn about an international tragedy.
Facts and statistics: asbestos cancer by the numbers
The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization estimates asbestos-caused lung cancer claims more than 5,000 lives every year in the United States. Did you know that
- Asbestos is a known human carcinogen and causes lung cancer.
- More people die from asbestos-caused lung cancer than mesothelioma.
- One in five women and one in twelve men diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked.
- Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.
The United States Office of Compliance provides these asbestos statistics in 2007:
- 30 million pounds of asbestos are still used in the U.S. each year.
- Asbestos is the #1 cause of occupational cancer, causing 54% of those deaths.
- Since 1979, more than 43,000 Americans have died of asbestos-related diseases.
The World Health Organization gives an international perspective on asbestos cancer:
- Currently, about 125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos at the workplace.
- According to the most recent WHO estimates, more than 107 000 people die each year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis resulting from exposure at work.
- One in every three deaths from occupational cancer is estimated to be caused by asbestos.
Lung cancer facts and statistics: asbestos cancer's most common form
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's paper on asbestos health effects says that evidence for the role of asbestos in human lung cancer is derived primarily from studies of the cause of death of occupationally-exposed workers. One example of such a study is Dr. Irving Selikoff's 1979 study of North American insulation workers.
Dr. Selikoff published a 1979 study of a group of 17,800 insulation workers in the United States and Canada. Between 1967 and 1976, there were 2,271 deaths in this group, of which 486 were attributable to lung cancer, which is 4.6 times the number of lung cancer deaths that would have been expected in this group based on the lung cancer rates in the average male population of the United States. (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp61-c3.pdf)
The ATSDR says “similar findings have been reported in a very large number of analogous studies under a wide variety of occupational circumstances. In a review, a statistically significant increase in lung cancer death rates had been reported in 32 of 41 recent studies.” (ATSDR)
Citing dozens of similar studies, the ATSDR concludes “There is little doubt that all types of asbestos can cause lung cancer. For example, statistically significant increases in lung cancer mortality have been reported in workers exposed primarily to chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, anthophyllite, and tremolite, or to multiple fiber types.”
The interaction between smoking and asbestos inhalation is a dangerous one, and it is more likely to result in asbestos lung cancer than in mesothelioma. Smokers who are also exposed to asbestos have a risk of developing lung cancer that is greater than the individual risks from asbestos and smoking added together.
Smoking combined with asbestos exposure does not appear to increase the risk of mesothelioma. Although mesothelioma is rare, it is the most common form of cancer associated with asbestos exposure. (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/asbestos#r6)
Facts and statistics on asbestos cancer outside the lungs and mesothelium
Mortality studies of asbestos workers have shown increases in the number of deaths from cancer at one or more sites other than the lung, the pleura, or the peritoneum. The asbestos cancer was found mostly in tissues of the gastrointestinal system. (ATSDR)
In a 1979 study led by Dr. Selikoff, a total of 99 deaths from cancers of the esophagus, stomach, colon, or rectum were observed in a cohort of 17,800 insulation workers, while only 59.4 deaths of this sort were expected. Similarly, in Dr. McDonald's 1983 study of a group of 2500 asbestos textile workers, there were 26 deaths from gastrointestinal cancer, and only 17.1 deaths were expected. (ATSDR)
In McDonald's 1983 study, there was “an approximately linear increase in gastrointestinal cancer death rate with cumulative exposure to asbestos. Similar increases in gastrointestinal cancer rates in asbestos workers have been reported in other studies.” (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp61-c3.pdf) The length and severity of asbestos exposure had a direct connection to the cancer's fatality.
Though gastrointestinal cancer is the most common non-lung/ non-mesothelial cancer linked to asbestos, it is not the only cancer linked to asbestos exposure. Some studies have also noted excess deaths from, or reported cases of, cancers at other sites, such as the kidney, brain, and bladder. (ATSDR)
Facts and statistics on asbestos cancer patients' legal results with Weitz & Luxenberg
- Weitz & Luxenberg lawyers helped the families of two asbestos lung cancer patients secure $37 millionin compensation.
- We have recovered over $3 billion in verdicts and settlements for our clients.
- It costs nothing to contact Weitz & Luxenberg with questions about your legal options for dealing with your asbestos cancer.
If you are suffering from asbestos cancer and have been considering your legal options, call Weitz & Luxenberg or fill out a form today for your free legal consultation.