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Study finds increased cancer risk among textile workers who used asbestos

August 4th, 2009

A study conducted by three leading universities has revealed that textile mill workers in North Carolina who worked with asbestos face an increased risk of lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. The study, published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, challenges theories that some types of asbestos may be safer than others.

Researchers with Duke University, the University of North Carolina and the University of Nevada tracked nearly six thousand individuals who worked at one of four North Carolina textile plants between 1950 and 1973. The plants converted raw asbestos and cotton fibers into woven materials such as yarn.

According to the results of the study, workers at the plants had higher rates of lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma than expected. Although an individual’s risk of developing lung cancer or asbestosis increases with the amount and duration of asbestos exposure, there is a risk of developing mesothelioma symptoms no matter how long or in what amount the exposure occurred.

The new study also challenged the notion that certain forms of asbestos may be safer and pose fewer health risks to workers. The study examined workers who had used chrysotile asbestos, which is used in textile mills. Researchers found that the workers were at a higher-than-expected risk for receiving a diagnosis of lung cancer, asbestosis or mesothelioma.

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