The link between asbestos exposure and a number of respiratory diseases has long been established, with a number of special avenues made available to victims in Australia, usually with the assistance of specialist compensation lawyers.
Perhaps the most well-known of these illnesses is known as mesothelioma – the cancer that only forms as a result of direct contact with the hazardous substance.
Most often, the disease is present in the lungs after asbestos dust is inhaled by the victim – although there have been cases where growths have been found present in the abdominal cavity.
While there is no known cure for mesothelioma, it can be avoided simply by removing the chance of exposure to the carcinogenic material – a process that has been taking place in construction industries across the nation for decades.
However, a new study has found that asbestos may not only have an adverse effect in the form of cancerous tumours – it may also have an impact on the victim’s health in other areas as well.
A recent study in the UK has found that workers who handle asbestos on a regular basis may be putting themselves at greater risk of stroke and heart disease.
In particular, the scientists were looking to see if the inflammatory properties of the known carcinogen could aggravate – or even be the sole cause of – cardiovascular symptoms.
Researchers from the Mathematical Sciences Unit at the Health and Safety Laboratory in Buxton, Derbyshire, covered the cases of over 100,000 employees involved in construction projects and manufacturing roles that required them to come into contact with the material.
When they compared, the mortality rates of workers exposed to asbestos with the statistics available on the general population, they found that the male employees were 63 per cent more likely to die of a stroke and 39 per cent more likely to die of heart disease.
These same figures were found to be 100 per cent and 89 per cent respectively when it came to females who dealt with the material regularly.
Perhaps more alarmingly, these figures were found to hold true even after other risk factors such as smoking were taken into account.
While further research is needed to determine how strong the link between asbestos, inflammatory complications and stroke are in numerical terms, the preliminary findings are enough to warn consumers of the danger the material presents to their health – even without the fear of cancer.