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Asbestos diseases affecting broader segments of the population

June 13th, 2007

A new study by an advocacy group for asbestos diseases says that younger patients and those with no history of asbestos exposure are being diagnosed with diseases like mesothelioma in increased numbers. The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) says that women, patients under 40 and those who have never worked around asbestos represent an increased proportion of those diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.

The ADAO’s analysis of cases from the last three years shows that the average patient with an asbestos related disease is 51 years old, and that half are women. The group also says that patients as young as 40 and some with no known history of asbestos exposure are also being diagnosed. Some of the diseases caused by asbestos exposure include mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.

The ADAO says that its findings represent a sharp change from a 1990 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the earlier data, the average asbestos patient was about 70 years old and generally male. The study found that 80% of asbestos-disease patients were male, and about half had suffered asbestos exposure in the workplace.

A comparison of the two studies shows that the profile of the typical asbestos patient has changed drastically over the past two decades, the ADAO says. One official with the group says that patients in their 20s or 30s have begun to contact it in greater numbers after being diagnosed with an asbestos disease.

This shift in the makeup of the typical asbestos patient has increased calls in Congress for a complete ban on asbestos products in the United States. According to the ADAO, about 100,000 patients will die from asbestos diseases over the next decade—equaling a rate of about 30 patients per day.

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