Study Says Mexican Mesothelioma Risk May Rival That of Turkey
December 10, 2013 at 12:45 PM
A new study published in Environmental Geochemistry and Health and reported by Surviving Mesothelioma has found large concentrations of the mesothelioma-causing mineral erionite in Central Mexico. The study is focused on the region around San Miguel de Allende in Guanajuato. In the village of Tierra Blanca de Abajo, lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma are the primary causes of death and the researchers say erionite may be the reason.
“The physical and chemical characteristics of erionite near San Miguel de Allende are similar to those of erionite from the Cappadocian region of Turkey where erionite is associated with malignant mesothelioma,” they report. In the Cappadocian region of Turkey, most homes were built from blocks of stone containing large amounts of erionite. Rates of mesothelioma, a rare cancer normally associated with asbestos exposure, can run as high as 50 percent of the population in that area, making it a prime area for mesothelioma research.
The new study suggests that people in central Mexico may face a similar mesothelioma risk. Erionite-laden soil was used to construct adobe homes in the past and erosion has likely exposed the mineral in recreational areas. More than 13 Mexican villages in the region may be at risk prompting the research team to call for “detailed health-based studies” of the problem.
Erionite has a chemical structure similar to asbestos, the primary cause of mesothelioma around the world. Like asbestos, erionite is believed to lodge in the lungs and work its way deep into the tissue, eventually causing chronic irritation in the mesothelium surrounding the lungs and other organs. Over time, this irritation and inflammation can trigger mesothelioma, a virulent cancer with no known cure.
The World Health Organization has classified erionite as a Group 1 respiratory carcinogen along with asbestos, arsenic and tobacco. The new study was originally published in Environmental Geochemistry and Health. (Ortega-Guerro, MA and Carrasco-Nunez, G, “Environmental occurrence, orgina, physician and geochemical properties, and carcinogenic potential of erionite near San Miguel de Allended, Mexico”, November 24, 2013, Environmental Geochemistry and Health, Epub ahead of print. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24271499)
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