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Study: 15,000 asbestos-related deaths occur each year in U.S.

Asbestos has long been identified as the cause of certain kinds of lung cancer such as mesothelioma and respiratory diseases such asbestosis, but obtaining a reliable number for asbestos-related deaths in a given year has proved more troublesome. A recent study based on death records from the Center for Disease Control indicates that approximately 15,000 persons die from asbestos exposure each year.

The study examined death records for the period 1999 to 2013. It focused on deaths attributed solely or in part to mesothelioma or asbestosis. These two diseases were chosen because exposure to asbestos-containing products is the only known cause of each. The study also included other kinds of lung cancer that can be triggered by exposure to asbestos and used a formula developed by the International Agency for Research On Cancer to estimate deaths from this source.

The authors of the study were able to estimate that during the period in question, asbestos caused 12,000 to 15,000 deaths each year. Even these numbers were characterized as perhaps being too low by a former assistant surgeon general of the United States. One of the researchers also commented, "Clearly, asbestos kills more Americans each year than we thought."

The researchers also looked at the effect of the sharply reduced use of asbestos in the last four decades. The study found no decline in death rates from asbestos during the period that was studied because of the long lag time between asbestos exposure and the onset of observable symptoms.

This study shows that asbestos still poses a significant health hazard in the United States, in spite of the numerous limitations imposed on its use. Anyone who has been exposed to asbestos fibers should seek medical attention at the first onset of symptoms. If an asbestos-related disease is diagnosed, consulting with an attorney who specializes in asbestos litigation may be helpful. Such a lawyer can provide an analysis of the case and an estimate of the chances of recovering damages from the parties who are responsible for the conditions that led to the asbestos exposure.

Source: Outbreak News Today, "Up to 15,000 asbestos-related deaths reported annually in US: Estimates," May 13, 2015

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