Natural Asbestos is Harmful, Too: Chinese Study

A Chinese study recently concluded that any disturbance of naturally occurring asbestos, such as for farming or building, can substantially increase the risk of mesothelioma and a number of other cancers.

The study, which compared the distribution of mortality rates of six kinds of cancer with patterns of land use in the Dayao area, used geographic information systems data and focused on mesothelioma, stomach cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer, nasopharyngeal and laryngeal cancers, and intestinal cancer.

Researchers determined that death rates from mesothelioma and three other types of cancer were “significantly associated” with asbestos that was exposed from the soil as a result of digging. Asbestos is toxic mineral that is the only known cause of the fatal cancer mesothelioma.

Many people associate mesothelioma with occupational asbestos exposure from working in mines or other industries, but this study confirms that simply living near naturally-occurring asbestos can also cause the deadly cancer.

In conclusion, the researchers stated, “It can be concluded that naturally occurring asbestos may significantly elevate the mortality rates of nasopharyngeal and laryngeal cancer, intestinal cancer, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.”

According to data from the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry of the CDC (Center for Disease Control), asbestos occurs naturally in a number of regions of the United States, including several Eastern states, California, the Northwest, Alaska, North Dakota, and in some areas of a number of Midwestern and Western States. Libby, Montana is a town that is commonly associated with asbestos exposure and mesothelioma because of the large asbestos mine that used to operate in the area.

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