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May 23, 2019

High Time for Complete Ban on Asbestos Use in Developing Countries

Author Affiliations
  • 1Group of Molecular Epidemiology & Cancer Precision Prevention, Institute of Occupational Diseases, Zhejiang Academy of Medical Sciences, Hangzhou, China
  • 2The First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, China
  • 3Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit, School of Biological Sciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 4Latner Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratories, Division of Thoracic Surgery, Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
JAMA Oncol. 2019;5(6):779-780. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2019.0446

Considerable evidence has indicated that all forms of asbestos are carcinogenic to humans. Long-term exposure to asbestos is associated with the incidence of malignant pleural mesothelioma, which is a rare but highly aggressive cancer with a poor prognosis. Most mesotheliomas occur in the pleura and peritoneum. Because the latency period can be 20 to 50 years, the incidence of mesothelioma dramatically increases after asbestos exposure, even if the usage is completely prohibited.1 According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 125 million people worldwide are exposed to asbestos at their workplaces, and more than 107 000 workers die from asbestos-related diseases annually. In addition, thousands of deaths are attributed to asbestos exposure in homes.2