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This Labor Day, Let’s Reflect on Those Exposed to Asbestos on the Job

Today we reflect on what Labor Day is and has become.

According to the official definition from the Department of Labor website, “Labor Day is an annual holiday to celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the country.”

In the United States, Labor Day is a federal holiday currently observed on the first Monday of September. The first Labor Day was celebrated on September 5,1882.  Labor Day has its origins in the labor union movement which advised 8 hours for work, 8 hours for recreation and 8 hours for rest. Through their movement they help shine a light on workers conditions and change laws to regulate working conditions.

Labor Day is also the unofficial end to summer often that is what many people associated with this holiday. As we enjoy our families and friends this last unofficial weekend of summer, we should stop and remember the people who are battling illnesses related to their occupations.

Asbestos is the number one cause of work related deaths worldwide. More than 39,000 lives are lost to asbestos related illnesses each year. Although many think asbestos has been banned in the United States 1.3 million workers are at risk of exposure.

Malignant mesothelioma and asbestos related diseases have historically affected the working man and women. From the asbestos mines, to servicemen serving our country the exposure to asbestos through insulation, and the many products made with asbestos  has continued to affect the health of many workers.

People that are diagnosed with Malignant Mesothelioma can often pinpoint their exposures to jobs held many years ago. The incubation period from exposure to asbestos and development of Malignant Mesothelioma can be as long as 50 years.

Enjoy the holiday and hopefully in the not so distant future we can add banning asbestos to one of the movements that contributed to improved workers health and safety.

Asbestos Isn’t Banned in America – Yet

It is easy to understand why so many people falsely assume that asbestos is banned in the United States. There are decades of research that prove that toxic fibrous asbestos crystals can cause mesothelioma and lung cancer in even the smallest quantities. While many of asbestos’ applications are now limited, there are unfortunately still loopholes in current legislation.

In 1989, there was a partial ban on manufacturing, importing, processing, and distributing products that contained asbestos, as well as a ban to prevent asbestos from being utilized for new purposes. The asbestos industry fought back, and so gaps in the law prevail.

Consumer products such as baby powder, children’s makeup, and crayons continue to be flagged as having the carcinogen. Manufacturers of these products are not required to warn consumers if asbestos accounts for less than one percent of ingredients, even though it is known that even small amounts can cause cancer. They should be required to do so.

America is the only developed country to have not yet imposed a complete ban on asbestos.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, while the last American manufacturer of asbestos ceased operations in 2002, the United States imported 681 tons of asbestos in 2018 with Russia as its sole source. Beyond this, the USGS 2020 Mineral Commodity Summary of asbestos noted that some asbestos minerals are also imported as part of manufactured products, “including brake blocks for use in the oil industry, rubber sheets for gaskets used to create a chemical containment seal in the production of titanium dioxide, certain other types of preformed gaskets, and some vehicle friction products.”

Organizations like the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (CureMeso) and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) are currently leading the battle to finally ban asbestos in the United States. Linda Reinstein founded the ADAO in 2004 in response to her husband’s diagnosis of mesothelioma, and continues to this day to raise public awareness about the dangers of exposure and to work towards a global asbestos ban. 

The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2019 is currently in committee with both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and is ready for a vote of the full house. The bill, if enacted, “prohibits the manufacturing, processing, and distribution of asbestos or any mixture or article containing asbestos.” ADAO has been lobbying for the bill to come up for a vote in both chambers of congress.

If you would like to support efforts to get the bill passed to ban asbestos in America, you can sign ADAO’s petition on Change.org or make a donation to them or CureMeso today.

Mesothelioma - World Cancer Day

Putting Mesothelioma Front and Center on World Cancer Day

Today, February 4, is an international day set aside to unite the world’s population in the fight against cancer. With the tagline ‘We can. I can.’,” World Cancer Day 2018 is focused on how everyone – as a collective or as individuals – can do their part to reduce the global burden of cancer. This day is a fitting time to tell your friends, and anyone you meet, about mesothelioma and ways in which they can support the mesothelioma community in the quest to help find a cure.

World Cancer Day’s primary objective is to get as many people as possible around the globe to talk about cancer. Organized by the Union for International Cancer Control, the world’s largest cancer organization headquartered in Switzerland, the day “aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about the disease, pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action.”

The day is a time to reflect on deaths caused by mesothelioma, a preventable cancer, and renew efforts to eliminate recognized cancer causes. With thousands of families across the globe losing loved ones to mesothelioma, it is the time to raise awareness of the slow-developing asbestos-caused cancer.

Mesothelioma is a serious disease diagnosed in close to 3,000 Americans each year. As with other environmental cancers, mesothelioma is an entirely preventable disease. Currently there is no known cure for the disease, but ongoing research is the key to finding the breakthrough that can mean the difference between life and death.

Today, about 125 million people worldwide are exposed to asbestos, primarily in the workplace or by living near factories that handle asbestos. Microscopic asbestos fibers can accumulate in the lung and cause mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis, a chronic scarring of the lung.

There are nearly 500 events planned for World Cancer Day 2018. Check here for an event near you. In addition, donations can be made to a mesothelioma organization where your dollars will go towards mesothelioma research. Consider making a donation to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation in honor of Don Smitley, who lost his life to mesothelioma. His daughter Jennifer Gelsick, who is a “Faces of Mesothelioma” authorand her family established a fund in Smitley’s name to help raise much-needed money for mesothelioma research. Contributions can be made in Don’s memory at www.curemeso.com/fundraising/smitley.

“World Cancer Day is a chance to reflect on what you can do, make a pledge and take action. Whatever you choose to do ‘We can. I can.’ make a difference to the fight against cancer.”

For more information visit WorldCancerDay.org.

Sources :

  • Union for International Cancer Control,
    https://www.uicc.org/
  • Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
    http://www.curemeso.org/
  • Union for International Cancer Control
    https://www.uicc.org/
Blood Test - Mesothelioma Survival

Breakthrough Blood Test May Extend Mesothelioma Survival

Just last week, MesotheliomaHelp reported on a corporate partnership for blood test tools that will bring improved results in the detection of key lung cancer mutations. Blood biopsies are shown to be fast and accurate, as well as less stressful on the patients. Now, in another breakthrough using liquid biopsies, researchers report success in the early detection of mesothelioma and screening for multiple cancers using one tool.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have developed the CancerSeek blood test that is able to screen for eight different types of cancers and can help pinpoint the location of the tumor. In a recent study of 1,005 cancer patients, the results had a “greater than 99 percent specificity for cancer,” according to a Jan. 19 press release from Johns Hopkins University.

[expert_info author=”Bert Vogelstein, Johns Hopkins University”]”This test represents the next step in changing the focus of cancer research from late-stage disease to early disease, which I believe will be critical to reducing cancer deaths in the long term.”[/expert_info]

Although there are screening options for some cancers, such as breast and prostate,  mesothelioma, and many other cancers, are diagnosed after the patient goes to a doctor exhibiting some of the signature symptoms of cancer: unexplained weight loss, extreme fatigue and a persistent cough. CancerSeek results had a sensitivity ranging from 69 percent to 98 percent in five cancers that do not currently have any screening test availables, including ovarian, pancreatic, and esophageal cancers.

The test, according to the researchers, looks at eight common cancer proteins and the presence of cancer gene mutations from DNA circulating in the blood. The team developed a “small yet robust panel” that could detect at least one mutation and not lead to false-positives. The test is used for cancer detection only, and does not detect specific biomarkers to drive treatment.

“The use of a combination of selected biomarkers for early detection has the potential to change the way we screen for cancer…,” says Nickolas Papadopoulos, senior author and professor of oncology and pathology at Johns Hopkins.

Pleural mesothelioma, a deadly cancer of the lungs caused by past exposure to asbestos, has a long incubation period where patients may not exhibit symptoms for decades after exposure. By then the disease is already at an advanced, incurable stage.

Early detection of cancer through screening reduces mortality from many cancers, including lung and colon, according to the National Cancer Society. When treating mesothelioma patients, the best outcome is achieved with early detection of the disease by increasing treatment options and improving the patients’ quality of life while battling the cancer.

The  tests are still in the early stages of research and are not yet available; however, they may be helpful in diagnosing mesothelioma in the future. In fact, the team anticipates a relatively inexpensive test that may be conducted by a primary care provider.

Read the results of the study in the Jan. 18 issue of the journal Science.

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/357/6349/378

 

 

 

Man Behind Mesothelioma Warrior Ray Nye Caring for His Wife

Turning Off Certain Enzymes Could Stop Mesothelioma Growth

Researchers realize that one of the best ways to fight cancer is to stop it from growing and metastasizing in the first place. However, finding the right way to do that is not easy. Now, researchers believe that by turning off certain enzymes they can stop cancer cells from dividing. This discovery may stop cancer in its tracks, and bring new treatments that could extend the lives of mesothelioma patients.

Researchers from Uppsala University, Karolinska Institutet, and the University of Oxford, began to look deeper into finding a way to switch off enzymes as a promising strategy to fight cancer. Tailored drugs are needed to shut down an individual enzyme, but before they could look at new therapies, they needed to better understand how cancer-fighting drugs get to their targets.

The team of scientists turned their focus deep into the cells to a cell membrane protein dehydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH), a key anticancer target known to play a role in cell proliferation, according to a Jan. 19 press release from Uppsala University. They conducted a series of tests to determine how lipids, or building blocks of the cell membrane, and drugs bind to the DHODH enzyme. By better understanding this mechanism, they can better understand how to drive drugs directly to the disease.

“To our surprise, we saw that one drug seemed to bind better to the enzyme when lipid-like molecules were present,” says assistant professor Michael Landreh, Karolinska Institutet. In addition, they found that a lipid present in the mitochondrial respiratory chain complex, or the cell’s energy source, binds to the enzyme. The researchers concluded that DHODH may “use special lipids to find its correct place on the membrane.”

Research suggests that tumor metastases are responsible for approximately 90% of all cancer-related deaths. Funding research to find ways to have drugs home in directly on the disease brings hope to every cancer patient. In the case of mesothelioma, an incurable, asbestos-caused cancer, that quickly spreads to other organs leaving patients with few treatment options, halting cancer growth could lead to extended survival. Survival is typically about one year.

“By studying the native structures and mechanisms for cancer targets, it may become possible to exploit their most distinct features to design new, more selective therapeutics,” says Sir David Lane, Karolinska Institutet.

To find out more about this research, read the full study in the Jan. 18 issue of Cell Chemical Biology.

http://www.cell.com/cell-chemical-biology/fulltext/S2451-9456(17)30461-0

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