Are men more prone to mesothelioma? Men, take a deep breath because the answer is yes.
Despite being rare in comparison to other cancers, Mesothelioma is quickly turning into a real threat – more importantly for men. In the Unites States alone, Mesothelioma has claimed more than 37,000 lives up till 2013. Studies suggest that around 3,000 cases are reported every year in American alone. 60% of these cases are diagnosed in men, which makes them four times more susceptible to Mesothelioma than women.
Research also suggests that women have almost three-times better survival chances compared to men. Around 13 percent of women with Mesothelioma live up to five years after treatment in comparison to men who have a strikingly low survival rate of 4.5 percent.
Why Males Specifically?
The disease has less to do with your gender and more to do with your occupation. For instance, if you work in a bank, mall or a school, you are less likely to get Mesothelioma. The disease is largely linked to asbestos exposure and these groups of fibrous silicate minerals – which have been established as a leading occupational carcinogen – are the primary cause of Mesothelioma.
Although asbestos exposure has been thoroughly regulated in the United States in order to reduce health risks, some industries pose higher risks of Mesothelioma for their workers than others. Some of the most high-risk work sites include shipyards, petroleum refineries, power plants and construction sites. Since these industries are male-dominated, men are more prone to Mesothelioma.
Common Sources of Asbestos Exposure at Work
Industry workers such as foremen, mechanics and machinery operators get exposed to asbestos products like certain textiles and insulations. Heat resistant products, for example fireproofing sprays and pipe insulations, are major sources of these lethal fibers. These fibers are invisible to naked eye and can easily be inhaled and swallowed. According to a study, around 30 percent of power plant workers in the United States had asbestos in their sputum samples.
Burning of asbestos product leads to the fiber becoming airborne. This is why firefighters who use protective firefighting clothes and tools tend to be the potential victims of Mesothelioma. Doctors are of the view that prolonged exposure to asbestos increases the chances of Mesothelioma. Likewise, extreme but short-term exposure can also prompt the disease. This view is backed by evidence regarding 9/11 first responders who were diagnosed with the disease within only five years of exposure.
Women are equally vulnerable to this disease. However in their case, they are more likely to get Mesothelioma due to environmental causes rather than occupational. According to a study conducted by the National Heart & Lung Institute at Imperial College London and the Department of Preventive Medicine in Milan, most women who developed Mesothelioma were either living close to plants with asbestos exposure or with the people working in asbestos-related industries.
Also, second-hand Mesothelioma tends to get diagnosed at a much younger age. Perhaps this is also one of the reasons that the survival rate in women is relatively higher as compared to the men. Patients who get diagnosed at a relatively younger age have a significantly higher survival rate. Studies suggest that Mesothelioma sufferers diagnosed before the age of 50 live longer than the patients diagnosed after the age of 70. On the other hand, doctors are still trying to figure the reasons behind why some workers with a higher rate of exposure to asbestos are more prone to the disease than others.
It is important to understand that not every individual working with asbestos products will develop Mesothelioma. But, the probability of developing asbestos related diseases for such individuals is remarkably high. This is why the World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized asbestos as a significant occupation carcinogen and has acknowledged a need for global efforts against asbestos related diseases.
- American Cancer Society. 2013. Malignant Mesothelioma. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003119-pdf.pdf. [Accessed 06 August 15].
- Dr Louise Newson. 2015. Mesothelioma. [ONLINE] Available at: http://patient.info/health/mesothelioma. [Accessed 05 August 15].
- Jeff Muise. 2009. Mesothelioma by the Numbers. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.everydayhealth.com/mesothelioma/mesothelioma-numbers.aspx. [Accessed 06 August 15].
- U.S. National Institutes of Health. 2014. Search of Mesothelioma – Results on Map. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results/map?cond=mesothelioma. [Accessed 05 August 15].
- Vanya, Delgermaa et al., 2011. Global mesothelioma deaths reported to the World Health Organization between 1994 and 2008. Bull World Health Organ, 89, 16–724.