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Asbestos Exposure During Childhood Can Lead to Mesothelioma

Environmental and Domestic Asbestos Exposure During Childhood Scientists are looking at mesothelioma risk in women exposed to asbestos. Asbestos exposure in women varies. But, environmental and domestic asbestos exposures are common.

Oncologists are now asking about childhood environmental and domestic asbestos exposures. A study from the International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health tells more.

Forms of Asbestos Exposure: Environmental and Domestic

All forms of asbestos are capable of causing cancer in humans. Most asbestos research focuses on malignant mesothelioma. This is aggressive cancer associated with exposure to asbestos.

Occupational asbestos exposure is the most common exposure. Workers are exposed to asbestos on the job site or through work-related tasks. Women more often have domestic asbestos exposure. This comes from living with and handling the clothing of workers exposed to asbestos.

Aalborg University is looking at a new angle. Scientists are looking at girls who went to school near an asbestos factory in Denmark. Those school girls had more than a sevenfold risk of developing malignant mesothelioma. This risk increased due to environmental and domestic asbestos exposure.

Another type of asbestos exposure was considered here also. This included women living near asbestos-producing facilities. And the added risk of domestic or familial occupational exposure. This is due to the cleaning of asbestos-contaminated working clothes.

This finding suggests that asbestos increased the risk of mesothelioma through environmental exposure. The International Agency for Research on Cancer connected asbestos and certain cancer types. Other female cancers connected to asbestos are a cancer of the uterus and cervix.

Heightened Risk in Women after Environmental and Domestic Asbestos Exposure

In the school group, 15% of the former school children had at least one cancer. Of these, 26% also had or had a family member with occupational asbestos exposure. In all, scientists counted 1,331 primary cancers among the former school girls.

The risk of lung cancer was high for women with occupational and domestic exposure. The number of malignant mesothelioma cases was also very high.

Asbestos occupational exposure had an increased hazard ratio for cancer in the cervix. But a lower risk of ovarian cancer.

Female-Specific Cancers, Mesothelioma, and Different Asbestos Exposures

Children living and attending school near the asbestos plant have increased cancer risk. They had environmental and domestic asbestos exposure during childhood. After 51 years, these women had a higher incidence of mesothelioma. They had a higher rate of cancer of the corpus uteri.

According to Dr. Sofie Bünemann Dalsgaard of the Department of Clinical Medicine at Aalborg University, “This population is…important to study, not only for mesothelioma, but also other cancer types that have not been sufficiently studied, including female-specific cancers.”

This new Danish study has some unique features. First, they used a large cohort of female students that were all asbestos-exposed. All exposures were from school attendance and living nearby the asbestos cement factory.

Second, they were able to estimate their occupational and domestic asbestos exposure history.

Third, they had a long follow-up period of more than 40 years. This is important since it can take a long time to diagnose mesothelioma.

Environmental asbestos exposure in childhood increased the risk of malignant mesothelioma in women. This new study revealed an increased risk due to lifestyle and behavioral characteristics.


Dalsgaard, S. B., Würtz, E. T., Hansen, J., Roe, O. D., & Omland, O. (2022). A Cohort Study on Cancer Incidence among Women Exposed to Environmental Asbestos in Childhood with a Focus on Female Cancers, including Breast Cancer. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(4), 2086. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19042086

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