Study highlights heightened risk of asbestos exposure for smokers

Date: Apr 30, 2013

The danger of asbestos exposure has been once again highlighted by a new study published in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Researchers from Queens College in New York analysed more than 2,300 long-term insulators and over 54,000 male blue collar workers in order to compile the report.

They found significant evidence to indicate that asbestos exposure in combination with long term smoking habits can increase a person’s likelihood of dying from lung cancer by around 2,700 per cent.

Furthermore, the study revealed that individuals who were exposed to both the aforementioned risk factors as well as asbestosis – a lung condition caused by asbestos fibre inhalation – were even more likely to develop the disease.

According to study lead author Steven B. Markowitz, “the interactions between asbestos exposure, asbestosis and smoking, and their influence on lung cancer risk are incompletely understood”.

“Our study provides strong evidence that asbestos exposure causes lung cancer through multiple mechanisms,” said Mr Markowitz in a statement released April 9.

“We found that each individual risk factor was associated with increased risk of developing lung cancer, while the combination of two risk factors further increased the risk and the combination of all three risk factors increased the risk of developing lung cancer almost 37-fold.”

It is worth noting that the study also revealed a 5.2-fold increase in lung cancer deaths even amongst those survey participants who were acknowledged as non-smokers.

While this study focussed on North American based insulators and workers, it has relevance to any Australian who has been exposed to asbestos in the workplace during their lifetime.

Recent statistics have revealed that Australia is second only to the United Kingdom in asbestos-related cancer deaths, according to The Mesothelioma Centre.

Those most at risk of asbestos related illnesses, such as mesothelioma and asbestosis, include those in the construction, carpentry, plumbing, electrical engineering, insulation and shipbuilding industries.

If you fear you may have been personally affected by asbestos, it may be worth investigating whether or not you are entitled to compensation.

There are expert personal injury lawyers in Sydney who can assist you with your claim, and who have many years of experience in working with those affected by asbestos dust.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.