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Mesothelioma increases among Australian women

According to an Australian newspaper, mesothelioma is on the rise among Australian women. Although the exact cause for the increase is unknown, officials with Australia's Asbestos Diseases Foundation believe that the growing popularity of do-it-yourself home renovation projects. Foundation officials are so concerned about this apparent mesothelioma epidemic that they have asked the Australian government to require home improvement television shows to provide disclaimers warning viewers of the dangers of asbestos exposure before every program.

The Foundation reports that every home built in Australia prior to 1984 likely contains some asbestos product that could cause mesothelioma in homeowners and renovators. Many of these products, such as roof shingles and insulation, are well-known to contain asbestos. However, homeowners are not generally aware that the backings for kitchen and bathroom floor tiles, plumbing pipe insulation, backings for electric meter boxes, and even some paints can contain harmful asbestos.

In Australia, as in Illinois and the United States as a whole, men have generally been diagnosed with mesothelioma at much higher rates than women. This is because asbestos exposure happened at the workplace, in construction, plumbing, railroad, and similar jobs. Because men have traditionally been employed in these fields, they suffered the most exposure.

When women were diagnosed with mesothelioma, the majority were believed to have received secondhand exposure to the asbestos that would make the trip home on their husbands' work clothes. However, with the increasing popularity of female homeowners performing their own renovations, this appears to no longer be the case in Australia and in much of the world.

Source: Surviving Mesothelioma, "Mesothelioma on the Rise in Aussie Women," Aug. 24, 2011

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