By Sam Gurgis
A recent study conducted on workers in a US Coast Guard shipyard has found a significantly greater mortality rate associated with lung cancer and mesothelioma compared to the general population. The study also found an increased general mortality rate.
The study followed 4702 (4413 men and 289 women) civilian workers who were employed at the shipyard between January 1950 and December 1964. The study then measured the number of deaths and their causes through 31 December 2001.
The study was conducted by S Krstev, P Stewart, J Rusiecki, A Blair and was published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The original study publication is available at http://oem.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/64/10/651.
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is usually associated with exposure to asbestos. The majority of individuals who are diagnosed with mesothelioma have a history of exposure to asbestos particles at work or home. Family members of workers have also been affected. Renovators of homes containing asbestos cement material are accounting for an increasing number of diagnosed sufferers. Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear for decades after the exposure to asbestos. Symptoms include abdominal pain and weight loss. Diagnosis of mesothelioma can be difficult due to the fact that the symptoms are similar to other respiratory diseases.
Since mesothelioma is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos, mesothelioma can be best be prevented by avoiding or limiting exposure to asbestos in homes, public buildings, and at work. Workers that may be at risk include miners, factory workers, insulation manufacturers, railroad workers, ship builders, contractors and construction workers, particularly those involved with insulation. If there is a possibility of exposure (such as when renovating old buildings) protective equipment should be used and safety procedures should be applied. Asbestos was commonly used in building materials due to its durability and fire-resistant properties. In addition to buildings, asbestos was used in the manufacture of cars and ships and many other products.
About the Author: Sam Gurgis is a scientific writer and the webmaster at