According to new research published in the British Journal of Cancer, 1 in 17 British carpenters born in the 1940s will die of mesothelioma. In the largest global study of its kind funded by Cancer Research UK and the Health and Safety Executive more than 600 patients with mesothelioma and 1,400 healthy people were interviewed to examine UK rates of the disease linked to different occupations.
The researchers found that men born in the 1940s who worked as carpenters for more than 10 years before they reached 30 have a lifetime risk for mesothelioma of about 1 in 17. Also, for plumbers, electricians and decorators born in the same decade who worked in their trade for more than 10 years before they were 30, the risk is 1 in 50 and for other construction workers 1 in 125. Moreover, for every case of mesothelioma, asbestos also causes about one case of lung cancer. This means that the overall risk of asbestos related cancer for this particular group of carpenters is about 1 in 10.
The risk was not just limited to these specific industries. The study showed that 2/3 of all British men and 1/4 of women had worked in jobs involving potential asbestos exposure at some time in their lives. There was also a small increased risk in those who had lived with someone who had been exposed to asbestos. There are roughly 2,100 people diagnosed with mesothelioma in the UK each year with about five times as many cases in men as in women.