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Mesothelioma among women: the growing problem

Even though mesothelioma has historically been a concern for older men who were victims of asbestos exposure while working blue-collar jobs or serving in the military, is has also become a very big problem for women.

In fact, based on the most recent incidence rates for mesothelioma provided by the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database, women now account for roughly 20 percent of all mesothelioma cases.

Why are women being impacted by mesothelioma?

There are several possible reasons why there are so many female mesothelioma victims. For instance, while many of the jobs typically linked to asbestos exposure have traditionally been male-dominated -- including construction, auto repair and manufacturing -- more women are beginning to work in these industries. And if more women are exposed to asbestos while working, it only stands to reason that more women are likely to develop mesothelioma.

However, given that mesothelioma can take decades to develop following exposure, many believe there is a more likely explanation to the recent uptick in mesothelioma cases among women -- namely, secondhand asbestos exposure.

Essentially, secondhand asbestos exposure occurs when individuals inadvertently brings asbestos fibers home from work in their clothes, hair and skin -- thereby exposing their families and children to this dangerous material.

This means that those who worked in male-dominated, asbestos-related industries in the past could have unknowingly exposed their wives and daughters (in addition to all other family members) to dangerous amounts of asbestos. Many believe this is the most obvious explanation for why so many women are now starting to develop mesothelioma years later.

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