Among the most tragic aspects of malignant mesothelioma, the rare and fatal form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, is the remarkably high rate of the disease in America’s military veterans, and particularly those in the Navy. Navy veterans represent approximately one third of those diagnosed with the disease, and the reason for this is assumed to be the more expanded use of asbestos-contaminated equipment in Navy settings. A recent study conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University has taken a closer look at the incidence of mesothelioma in this population, and their work has made two things clear: one is that Navy veterans are at higher risk for the asbestos-related disease than is true of any other branch of service, and the other is that there are specific jobs held by Navy veterans that put them in even greater jeopardy.
The Vanderbilt mesothelioma study looked at a previously-identified group of veterans known as “atomic veterans.” The group had been exposed to radiation between 1945 and 1962 as part of the nuclear testing conducted in the Pacific Ocean and the Nevada desert. The medical information on this group of 114,000 had already been gathered in several epidemiological studies, and the researchers were able to use these studies to determine the cause of death by all involved. They also used historical records provided by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to identify the job responsibilities (and asbestos exposure) for each veteran.
What the researchers found was that those who served in the Navy had the greatest risk of being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, and that those in the Navy who worked in environments that exposed them to greater concentrations of asbestos had a disproportionately high risk for dying of mesothelioma. Among those working in high asbestos exposure environments (which made up only 20% of jobs), those who served in the Army, Air Force and Marines had no increased risk for mesothelioma, while the Navy vets who worked in those jobs represented 55% of mesothelioma diagnoses.
Exposure to asbestos has caused untold misery in the form of malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and other terrible diseases. If asbestos has affected your family and you need information on how to fight back, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.