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Asbestos-related Cancers: The ‘Hidden Killer’ Remains A Global Threat

N. van Zandwijk, G. Reid, A. Frank
Published 2020 · Medicine

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ABSTRACT Introduction: Asbestos, the most frequent cause of occupational cancer, continues to be consumed on a massive scale, with millions of people exposed on a daily basis. This review explains why we have failed in curtailing the silent epidemic of asbestos-related disease and why the numbers of asbestos victims are likely to remain high. Emerging and developed countries have to be reminded that asbestos exposure has yet to become a problem of the past. The worldwide spread of asbestos, followed by the surge of asbestos-related cancers, resembles the lung cancer epidemic caused by smoking and stimulated by manufacturers. Areas covered: Underreporting of malignant mesothelioma and asbestos-induced lung cancer, frequently-used arguments in the amphibole/chrysotile debate and the conclusion from bona-fide research organizations, that all forms of asbestos are carcinogenic, are reviewed. Special attention is paid to the consequences of ubiquitous environmental asbestos and the ‘changing face’ of malignant mesothelioma in countries with heavy asbestos use in the past. Expert opinion: Experts in oncology, respiratory medicine, occupational and public health, and basic researchers must take responsibility and acknowledge the ongoing silent epidemic of asbestos-related diseases. The call for a world-wide asbestos ban is more urgent than ever.
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