Category: National News
Each year, the mesothelioma community across the nation comes together for Mesothelioma Awareness Day, a time devoted to raising public awareness about the life-threatening cancer and its cause ─ exposure to asbestos.
Patients, family members, friends, advocates and health care professionals are encouraged to share their personal stories, struggles and inspiration in order to bring attention to the disease and further the search for a cure.
When Is Mesothelioma Awareness Day?
Mesothelioma Awareness Day is held on Sept. 26. In 2018, September 26 falls on a Wednesday.
In an effort to expand the impact of Mesothelioma Awareness Day, advocates have encouraged patients, caregivers, family and friends to participate in Mesothelioma Awareness Week surrounding Sept. 26, as well as Mesothelioma Awareness Month throughout September.
Mesothelioma Awareness Day History
In 2004, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation organized the original Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Since then, the national nonprofit organization has continued to build momentum by promoting the day as a time for all those touched by the cancer to talk about its impact.
In 2010, Congress joined the effort by establishing Mesothelioma Awareness Day as a time for the nation to recognize that thousands of Americans are diagnosed with the preventable cancer each year. In fact, despite its designation as a known carcinogen, asbestos is still not banned in the United States, and Americans are still at risk of exposure.
The Importance of Awareness Day
The National Mesothelioma Awareness Day resolution asks that the President of the United States issue a proclamation calling for all Americans, federal agencies and departments, state governments, local municipalities, organizations, and news media to properly observe the day.
The Congressional Declaration outlines these key facts about malignant mesothelioma as reasons for promoting awareness of the deadly asbestos cancer:
- Although workers who were exposed to asbestos on a daily basis over a long period of time are most at risk of developing mesothelioma, even short-term exposures can cause the disease. In fact, exposure to asbestos for as little as one month can result in mesothelioma 20 to 50 years later.
- Asbestos materials were used in the construction of virtually all office buildings, public schools, and homes built before 1975. Still today, asbestos is used in more than 3,000 products being sold in the United States.
- The National Institutes of Health reported to Congress in 2006 that mesothelioma is a difficult disease to detect, diagnose and treat.
- For decades, the need to develop treatments for mesothelioma was overlooked. Still today, even the best mesothelioma treatments usually have a very limited effect, with the expected survival time of 8 to 14 months.
- It is believed that many of the firefighters, rescue workers and police officers from Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, may be at increased risk of developing mesothelioma in the future due to asbestos exposure at the site.
Every year, about 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma. Around the world, an estimated 38,400 people die each year from the devastating asbestos illness.
Unfortunately, those numbers are not dwindling. Mesothelioma statistics indicate an increase in deaths in recent years, with an 8 percent increase in fatalities in the United States for the 10-year period that ended in 2015.
These facts point to the importance of Mesothelioma Awareness Day in educating people about the dangers of asbestos and promoting the need for continued research into more effective treatments.
Paint the World in Mesothelioma Awareness
Just as breast cancer is associated with the color pink, support for mesothelioma awareness is often represented by a colored ribbon. The mesothelioma awareness color is blue or pearl.
Friends and family members of patients typically don pearl or blue ribbons in a show of solidarity with their loved ones who are fighting the life-threatening disease.
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation also encourages people to participate in its “Paint the World in Mesothelioma Blue” campaign to raise awareness by wearing blue and sharing photos of themselves on social media.
How You Can Show Support on Mesothelioma Awareness Day
Since its founding, the nonprofit Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation has advocated for patients and families while coordinating fundraising events to support research efforts related to the disease. This national organization is committed to finding a cure for mesothelioma and ending the suffering it causes.
One way to show your support on Mesothelioma Awareness Day is to make a donation to the Meso Foundation. Your contribution will help fund the organization’s efforts to support mesothelioma patients and the ongoing search for a cure.
You may also choose to show your support by wearing (and asking others to wear):
- Mesothelioma awareness ribbons
- Mesothelioma awareness pins
- Mesothelioma awareness bracelets
- Mesothelioma awareness wristbands
- Mesothelioma awareness shirts
At Mesothelioma Help Cancer Organization, we aim to raise awareness year-round, in particular through our Mesothelioma Awareness Scholarship Contest. As part of this contest, students submit essays sharing their own experiences with mesothelioma as well as their efforts for raising awareness of the dangers of asbestos. We encourage the students to share their essays on social media to help spread the word.
Quick Facts to Share on Mesothelioma Awareness Day
- Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma. It has also been shown to cause lung cancer.
- Asbestos was commonly used on Navy ships and in shipyards. Veterans account for approximately one-third of mesothelioma diagnoses.
- Industrial workers and construction workers are at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases.
- Family members of those who worked with asbestos may have faced secondhand exposure through fibers brought home on clothing or skin.
- Although the U.S. government has safety regulations in place, it has not banned the use of asbestos.
- There is no safe level of asbestos exposure.
- Renovation projects on older homes and demolition of older buildings can put people at risk of asbestos exposure.
- Never try to remove asbestos materials on your own. Contact an asbestos abatement professional.
- Companies that made asbestos products understood the health risks but failed to warn the public.
- Mesothelioma patients and families may be entitled to compensation for damages due to asbestos exposure.
- Even if an asbestos company has gone out of business, funds may be available in a bankruptcy trust for mesothelioma victims.
- Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
- Make a Donation
It’s well known that veterans are at higher risk of asbestos-related diseases because of the wide use of the dangerous mineral fiber in thousands of buildings and Navy ships from World War II until the 1970s.
Now, the U.S. Department of Defense has announced plans to increase spending on research into new ways to combat the fatal disease linked to asbestos exposure.
The Department of Defense’s effort includes funding of several million dollars for three mesothelioma research projects. The funds will support research into early detection of the disease and the development of new treatments, including clinical trials on a vaccine that could improve the prognosis for patients with mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the lungs, caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. The microscopic fibers become lodged in the lungs and can lead to development of respiratory diseases including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis decades later.
Joseph Belluck, a partner in Belluck & Fox, LLP, a New York law firm that specializes in representing victims of asbestos related diseases, said the increase in research funding must be only the start of an effort to find a cure for asbestos-related disease that has killed thousands of veterans.
“Veterans who were willing to fight for their country now must have their country fight for them,” Belluck said.
The shipbuilding acitivities from before World War II until the 1980s exposed thousands of Navy veterans to asbestos exposure on a daily basis.
During World War II, several million people employed in U.S. shipyards and U.S. Navy veterans were exposed to chrysotile asbestos products as well as other forms of asbestos that were used extensively in military ship construction, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Asbestos was widely used in shipbuilding to insulate boilers, steam pipes and hot water pipes.
Veterans involved in mining, milling, shipyard work, insulation, demolition of old buildings, carpentry and construction, manufacture of brake linings and clutch facings and manufacture of pipes. Veterans may be eligible for health care and disability compensation if the VA determines the asbestos exposure was related to military service.
Learn more about VA health care and disability compensation at http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/benefits.asp.
Also, know more about mesothelioma and how you can deal with it.
University of Hawaii Researchers’ Glowing Bunnies May Someday Bring Genetic Therapy to Mesothelioma Patients
Fluorescent protein taken from a jellyfish DNA and injected into a rabbit’s embryos has produced a litter with several glow-in-the-dark bunnies. Although to many, this may seem like science fiction, to researchers, scientists and physicians this means more effective medicines and cures for diseases like hemophilia, Alzheimer’s, and cancers such as mesothelioma, may be on the horizon.
According to a press release, a team of researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the University of Istanbul in Turkey used transgenesis to take a genetic marker from one animal and introduce it into another that did not originally have the gene – in this case, from the jellyfish to the rabbit. Although two of the newborn bunnies were left with an eerie glow when seen under black lights, they are otherwise perfectly healthy and are expected to lead full rabbit lives.
Now, the researchers are awaiting the birth of glowing lambs anticipated to be born in November. The same experiment was conducted in the larger mammal to forward the process towards work with humans.
Unfortunately, this type of work is controversial in the United States, and the experiments are being conducted in Turkey. In an interview with KHON2 of Hawaii, Dr. Stefan Moisyadi, lead researcher from UH, said, “At home, there is this hysteria that transgenic animals should not be used for anything.” But he adds, “The benefits in doing it [the experiments] in large animals is to create bio-reactors that basically produce pharmaceuticals that can be made a lot cheaper.”
Gene therapy has been touted as the “new frontier” in medicine and is offering hope to patients and doctors alike that once untreatable diseases, including mesothelioma, may now be cured. The cost, however, is often extremely high. Dr. Moisyadi told Independent.co.uk, “we can make those enzymes a lot cheaper in animals with barrier reactives rather than a factory that will cost billions of dollars to build.”
Tracking Asbestos and Other Environmental Pollutants
Mesothelioma is just one of the diseases that is caused by exposure to environmental pollutants. The National Cancer Institute explains that when asbestos fibers are breathed in, they may get trapped in the lungs and remain there for a long time. Over time, these fibers can accumulate and cause scarring and inflammation, which can affect breathing and lead to serious health problems. Mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis are all associated with asbestos exposure.
The research with glowing animals can also be used to help track pollutants as they travel through the body. Researchers from the University of Tennessee have developed transgenic bioluminescent zebrafish that were engineered exclusively to emit a glow when elevated levels of ammonia or nitrate are present in the aquarium and enter the fishes’ bodies. These “environmental reporters” can lead the way to produce other processes that can detect a large number of chemicals or toxins, potentially screening processes.
While all of this research still requires many more years of studies and work in the labs, genetic research appears to be pointing to many promising breakthroughs in the medical field.
About the Researchers
UH Emeritus Professor Ryuzo Yanagimachi who is the founder of the UH Manoa Institute for Biogenesis Research helped set up the initial experiment with the Turkish researchers. Yanagimachi, according to UH, is “recognized around the world as the scientist whose early work with animals laid the foundation for the development of in vitro fertilization in humans.” He also invented the now common technique used in fertility clinics for inserting sperm into an egg. Dr. Stefan Moisyadi, associate professor, then took over the experiment and is the lead researcher on the project.
- University of Hawaii at Manoa
- KHON2 of Hawaii
Researchers at the University of Minnesota have confirmed a correlation between the risk of mesothelioma and the amount of time that workers spent in taconite mines. Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer of the lining of the lung and abdominal cavity. It’s generally associated with exposure to another mineral fiber, asbestos, linking the disease to occupations where asbestos was used.
The findings which will be presented to the Minnesota Legislature were part of an ongoing 5-year, $4.9 million study of Taconite workers’ health.The researchers said that a person’s risk of getting mesothelioma increased by three percent for each year they works in a taconite mine. The study is potentially groundbreaking because the type of mineral fibers present in iron ore mining have not been previously linked to mesothelioma.
“One important finding of the work to date in that the risk of contracting mesothelioma is higher across the entirety of the Range among people who worked longer in the industry,” said Dr. Jeff Mandel, a School of Public Health environmental health expert and principal investigator of the study.”
The Minnesota Legislature commissioned the study in 2008 after data from the Minnesota Cancer Registry showed an apparent excess of cases of mesothelioma among Iron Range workers. The study’s objective is to determine whether dust-related lung disease, including mesothelioma, lung cancer and other non-malignant respiratory disease is related to working in the taconite industry.
The researchers found that the causes of death among taconite workers compared to Minnesotans as a group were higher than expected for mesothelioma, lung cancer and heart disease.
The researchers are still trying to determine if the increased risk of mesothelioma among taconite miners is a result of cumulative exposure to the microscopic mineral fibers present in taconite dust. They plan to do further data analysis in coming months.
Source: University of Minnesota School of Public Health Press Release
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to document how people were affected by asbestos exposure who lived near an asbestos factory in Ambler, Pennsylvania. Exposure to asbestos dust is linked to serious respiratory diseases including lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health has identified an increase in the rate of mesothelioma around Ambler, where an asbestos factory operated for decades, according to a Penn Medicine news release this month. Ambler is just north of Philadelphia.
Dr. Fran Barg, an associate professor at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, told the CBS News affiliate in Philadelphia that Ambler has been profoundly affected by mesothelioma. The Ambler Boiler House, near the town’s revived Butler Avenue district, operated for nearly a century as an asbestos-manufacturing plan, but was shuttered in the mid 1970s.
Today, residents the West and South Ambler communities remain at risk of environmental exposure to asbestos and are potentially at increased risk of developing mesothelioma, the Penn Medicine researchers say. Although the factory has long been closed, symptoms of asbestos disease take decades to appear. Current and former Ambler residents who had occupational or environmental exposure to asbestos in the 1960s or 1970s or more recently could develop mesothelioma as a result of that past exposure.
Asbestos fibers when inhaled may lodge deep in the chest cavity, causing inflammation that eventually leads to disease. Mesothelioma is incurable, but there are treatments for mesothelioma to help manage the disease if it is diagnosed before it has reached an advanced stage.
“We know there is an existing health risk, but that’s just one piece of the problem,” Barg said in a Penn press release. “These communities suffered great social and economic consequences when the asbestos factory closed, and today, they are still trying to recover from that loss.”
The five-year study is to document the asbestos impact on the community and help local leaders make decisions about the future of the former asbestos factory site in the community. Barg and fellow researcher Edward Emmett, a professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, will develop a storehouse of information online and at the Chemical Heritage Foundation about the asbestos-related health risks in the community.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, environmental regulators have overseen the cleanup of more than a million cubic yards of asbestos waste that was dumped on a 25-acre site nearby.
Ambler residents can contact Dr. Fran Barg directly for information about the study by emailing her at [email protected].
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