April 4, 2011 – The worldwide rate of mesothelioma is probably much higher than has been previously estimated. Though many health authorities have tried to estimate the worldwide magnitude of mesothelioma cases, the lack of full reporting by many countries has made it a difficult task. Many developing countries with well-documented asbestos use do not report mesothelioma. According to a new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), for every four to five reported cases of mesothelioma worldwide, at least one case goes unreported.
The United States, Russia, United Kingdom, Germany and Japan were found to be the largest users of asbestos. Though the popularity of asbestos declined after it was associated with mesothelioma and other serious health problems in the 1980’s, the United States and other governments still have not banned asbestos use. Also, because it is inexpensive and easily accessible, asbestos is especially popular in developing countries regardless of the risks. Since many of the smaller, poorer countries using asbestos tend to have less reliable reporting practices, the actual numbers of mesothelioma cases may be even higher than the study suggests. The researchers concluded that any country that uses asbestos is certain to have mesothelioma cases and countries whose use has increased since 1970 are likely to see a rise in cases in the coming decades.