The Blog with the Search Engine for Statistics

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

International Paradox of Low Mesothelioma Rates in America

Though I wasn't planning on doing another post on asbestos statistics, a writer named Taylor Dardan asked me to do a guest post on mesothelioma. Taylor made the interesting correlation in the essay between America's success in keeping mesothelioma cancer rates down by regulating asbestos, and the domino effect of lowering public recognition of this asbestos-related disease. If America's awareness is lowered, it follows that international awareness of the correlation between asbestos and health will suffer as well. Canada is considering reopening a mine over one of the world's largest known asbestos deposits. Canada exports to India - where mesothelioma cancer rates are inordinately high. We live in a global world, and as Americans, we can make our fellow citizens and international friends aware that asbestos is deadly.

Alarming Statistics on Asbestos Exposure
by Taylor Darden

In America, people are used to seeing eye-popping statistics on the number of cancer diagnoses for the more "popular" cancers. For example, most people are at least vaguely aware that about one in eight women (12%) will develop invasive breast cancer. They may be aware that over one-hundred and fifty thousand people died of lung cancer in 2007 (the most recent year the numbers were available). Or, that more people died of lung cancer in America than any other cancer. However the statistics on supposedly rare cancers like mesothelioma have far less recognition by the general public.

Partially, this is because American statistics on mesothelioma are not considerably shocking. Only about three thousand cases are diagnosed each year. The majority of those cases occur in people between the ages of fifty and seventy, and nearly a third occur in veterans. Because it is rare, it is often overlooked or ignored. In terms of statistical awareness, mesothelioma is a forgotten cancer.

However, the statistics on worldwide mesothelioma cancer rates paints a strikingly different picture. The number of mesothelioma diagnoses sky rockets to over one-hundred thousand a year. As most of these cases are diagnosed in third-world countries, it’s likely the figures are highly understated. Combined with the extremely low mesothelioma survival rate (most patients survive only twelve to fourteen months after their initial diagnosis), it’s clear that mesothelioma deserves far more attention than it currently receives.

But even these statistics understate the truly alarming statistics about mesothelioma. The fact is, mesothelioma could be far lower. Mesothelimoa is a result of asbestos exposure. In fact, the rate of mesothelioma diagnosis in America is so low because asbestos use is heavily regulated, as it is throughout most developed countries. However, even developed countries such as Canada continue to export thousands of tons of asbestos - despite knowing the deadly consequences.

Canada exports nearly two-hundred thousand tons of asbestos a year to third-world countries such as India, where health and safety regulations are lax, and a staggering portion of the mesothelioma diagnoses are made each year. Even worse, Canadians plan on reopening the Jeffrey Mine, which sits atop the world’s largest deposit of asbestos, and has already produced over one-hundred and fifty thousand tons of asbestos since 2006 by itself. The Canadian government is currently debating propping up the Jeffrey Mine, which sits atop the world’s largest asbestos deposit, with a $58 million dollar loan that should allow it to export over two-hundred tons of asbestos each day at the request of the mine’s owner G. Bernard Coulombe.

Coulombe’s strategy is to reinvent the small Quebec town Asbestos, named after the mineral during its boom days in the mid 20th century, where the Jeffrey Mine is located by reopening the mine and selling the deadly material to India, Pakistan, and Vietnam. Quebec, which is part of the mineral’s part of its mining history still advocated its use and insists, against the words of the WHO and all international experts, that asbestos is safe. Despite this, asbestos use is heavily regulated in Quebec, as well as the rest of Canada.

The wide gap in the statistics between mesothelioma occurrences in America and worldwide demonstrate our ability to effectively prevent the cancer- but it requires far more attention and awareness than it is currently receiving. Ironically the mundane quality of the statistics in America may to be blame for this, even as they provide a textbook case for why the worldwide numbers are so alarming.


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Never Never Land, TN, United States
Mom of six kids (30, 27, 25, 22, 21, 13) in a far-from-average-statistics family. Freelance SEO Content Writer on the side. If I can help you in any way, shoot me a virtual letter at writerightforyou at gmail dot com.

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