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Mesothelioma Rates to Reach “Background” Levels by 2055

Data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that new mesothelioma cases should be on the decline and eventually reach “background levels” by 2055. This is good news but not for the nearly 3,000 Americans who fall victim to this deadly form of cancer each year. This news comes too late for the thousands of people who have succumbed to this awful disease -- 18,068 in the six years between 1999 and 2005 alone!

Mesothelioma is a hard disease to get a handle on. It’s completely preventable – caused by exposure to asbestos. However, there is no cure. In addition, there’s a decades-long latency period to deal with. A person can be exposed to asbestos and have developing mesothelioma tumors in their body for up to fifty years before the impact on their health is noticeable enough to send them to a doctor. Chances are, if they’ve waited that long, the disease has progressed into very advanced, almost untreatable stages.

A 2009 report from the Centers for Disease Control analyzed the new diagnosis rates for mesothelioma and attempted to predict when the disease would “peak” -the point where diagnoses stop increasing and begin to decline. That benchmark was primarily based on the fact that asbestos has been all but banned from new products manufactured in the U.S. since the mid to late 1980s, and the number of existing structures containing asbestos is declining as well. This means that fewer and fewer people are exposed to this carcinogen on a regular basis and therefore, theoretically, should not contract this specific type of cancer.

The CDC announced that by their estimates, new mesothelioma rates should have peaked in 2010. It’s too early to see if they were right.

Mesothelioma has plagued generations of Americans and people worldwide --the first case of a mesothelioma lawsuit was filed way back in 1929. Asbestos became a household product during the roaring 20’s as companies looked for a cheap and efficient way to mass produce products ranging from insulation to automobile parts. Since then thousands of those companies have been ordered to pay billions of dollars to reimburse normal people who were unwillingly or unknowingly exposed to this hazardous material via products they thought safe.

Rates may peak and even decline but it is likely that these mesothelioma lawsuits will continue to hit the courts for decades to come – and that’s just from victims who were exposed before the asbestos ban. The CDC conservatively estimated that 1.3 million construction workers, general laborers in the industry, and tradesmen and women will continue to be exposed to asbestos from contaminated materials in existing structures.

Which people are at the highest risk?

The data that went into the CDC study also pinpointed six states with abnormally high mesothelioma rates due to state-specific industries such as shipbuilding and mining. These states include:

  • Maine
  • Wyoming
  • West Virginia
  • Pennsylvania
  • New Jersey
  • Washington

These states will continue to bear the brunt of mesothelioma deaths until roughly 2055 when the new diagnoses and deaths switches populations from those who were exposed before the asbestos ban to those who have been exposed since.