Medical researchers from some of Japan's top universities and hospitals recently published a study indicating that Japan may experience more than 66,000 mesothelioma deaths by the year 2050. Mesothelioma is an often fatal cancer primarily linked to asbestos exposure.
Asbestos is the name of naturally occurring minerals mined in the United States and across the world for use in commercial products and building materials. The small fibers in asbestos can be released into the air or ingested when asbestos is disturbed. Inhaling asbestos can lead to mesothelioma and other ailments, which may take up to 50 years to develop after initial asbestos exposure.
The Japanese researchers believe that the rate of mesothelioma will continue to rise in Japanese individuals ages 50 through 89 until the year 2027. The researchers also noted the prevalence of work-related asbestos exposure. Approximately 80 percent of mesothelioma deaths considered by the survey were linked to workplace exposure.
"The Japanese government has regulated asbestos use since 1972 following the guidelines in European countries," the researchers said. "However, it seems that adequate ventilation and equipment to protect from asbestos exposure had not been used in the workplaces where asbestos use was rampant."
Researchers also opined that adequate employer compliance with asbestos abatement and asbestos exposure guidelines would significantly reduce the number of people who will die in that country due to asbestos-related mesothelioma.
"More than 60 percent of deaths will be avoided if the regulations are followed as compared with the case when they are breached," the study says. "There is no doubt that preserving the administrative level in the workplace in which asbestos is used would be sufficiently effective to reduce the present and future deaths from mesothelioma."