CDC: Mesothelioma Deaths Up Among Women

While asbestos use has decreased in the US, mesothelioma deaths among women still increased by 25% over the past two decades, the researchers found.

From 1999 to 2020, mesothelioma deaths among women rose from 489 to 614, although the age-adjusted death rate per 1 million women fell from 4.83 to 4.15, Jacek Mazurek, MD, CDC, and colleagues reported.

Interestingly, the largest proportion of deaths were associated with homelessness (23%), while healthcare and social support had the largest proportion of deaths from industry (16%), the authors wrote. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Cancer of the mesothelium, the layer of tissue surrounding the internal organs in the chest and abdomen, has long been associated with men because of occupational exposure to asbestos in erection and erection, Mazurek and colleagues noted. However, “limited data” exists on women.

Mazurek’s group examined death certificate data from 1999 to 2020, where the ICD-10 code for malignant mesothelioma was listed in the CDC WONDER database. The authors noted that deaths were limited to women age 25 and older, and that the annual death rate per million women was adjusted for the US population in 2000.

Overall, there were 12,227 fatal mesothelioma deaths in women age 25 and older. Nearly all 55 years and older (91%), among white women (94%), with malignant mesothelioma listed as an underlying cause of death (94%). The majority of deaths were “unspecified sites” (72%), followed by mesothelioma of “other sites” (11%) and mesothelioma of the peritoneum (9%).

Separate deaths by state, the annual mesothelioma age-adjusted death rate exceeds 6.0 per 1 million women in seven states: Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Occupational information was available for 567 of 614 mesothelioma deaths in 2020. Jobs with the highest proportion of mesothelioma deaths were housewife (23%), elementary and middle school teacher (6%), and registered nurse (5%). When examined by industry groups, health services and social services accounted for the most deaths (16%), followed by education services (11%) and manufacturing (9%).

The authors noted that 85% of mesothelioma in men is attributed to work-related exposure to asbestos, while the “overall attributable risk” in women was 23%. They hypothesized about how women are exposed in other ways, such as “potential environmental exposure to naturally occurring asbestos, indoors when old building materials containing asbestos are present, or by family members.” From take-home exposure by indirect contact through those exposed to asbestos fibers at workplaces outside the home,” he wrote.

“The higher mesothelioma mortality rates in the northern states may reflect the greater use of asbestos in older building stock in that region,” the authors said.

He urged physicians to “maintain a high index of suspicion” for diseases caused by asbestos exposure when evaluating family members of exposed workers.

  • Molly Walker is deputy managing editor and covers infectious diseases for MedPage Today. He is a 2020 J2 Achievement Award winner for his COVID-19 coverage. Pursuance


The authors did not disclose any conflict of interest.

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