Researchers undertaking a new study have found that for every 4 to 5 reported cases of mesothelioma worldwide, at least one goes unreported, according to estimates published online today ahead of the print in the peer-reviewed Environmental Health Perspectives.

Malignant mesothelioma is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos.  The disease can typically take 20-50 years to develop following exposure to asbestos.

The authors assessed the relationship between country-level asbestos use from 1920 through to 1970 and mesothelioma deaths reported between 1994 and 2008.  The cumulative asbestos use in 89 countries, which accounted for more than 82% of the global population in the year 2000, totalled more than 65 million metric tons.  The United States, Russia, UK, Germany and Japan had the most asbestos use.  For the 56 countries, which had data on mesothlioma, there were approximately 174,300 deaths between 1994 and 2008.

According to one of the co reporters Ken Takahashi of the University of Occupational Medicine in Japan, “Our most important finding is the magnitude of unreported mesothelioma in countries that use asbestos at substantial levels but report no cases of the disease”.  Countries such as Russia, Kazakstan, China and India rank in the 15 countries for cumulative use.

The authors proposed that the mining of asbestos should be banned worldwide and developed countries should share their expertise, technology and experience to help developing countries better diagnose and report mesothelioma cases.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other asbestos related condition please do not hesitate to contact us on freephone 0800 294 3065.