The Use Of Beauty Or Cosmetic Products That Had Asbestos-Contaminated Talc May Be The Cause Of That Mysterious, Non-traditional Mesothelioma Case

A couple of weeks ago we posted this article, “Mesothelioma And Cancers Caused By Asbestos-Contaminated Talc In Body Powder Products And Cosmetics: New Scientific Study Provides Evidence Of Asbestos Fibers In Talc”, which explored the asbestos-talc mesothelioma cancer situation.

Given the facts set forth in the underlying news report by investigative reporter Andrew Schneider, “Study: Cosmetic talc products carry asbestos peril”, one would think that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would be taking action.

However, despite medical studies and lawsuits which point to cancers such as mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos-contaminated talc, the FDA maintains — as it has for many years in the past — that it lacks both resources and regulatory authority to protect consumers.

From a second investigative news report by Andrew Schneider, “FDA: Weak laws, sparse resources handcuff angency”, we get these revelations:

Many in public health look with envy at how other governments regulate products containing asbestos-tainted talc.

For example, in April 2009, South Korea’s Food and Drug Administration responded almost instantly after testing showed that hundreds of pharmaceutical and cosmetic products were contaminated with dangerous talc.

Immediately, tens of thousands of individual items _ of more than 1,100 different products –were ordered from store shelves and banned from future sale. They included finished products that were imported from China or made in South Korea from raw Chinese talc. The South Korean government said the imported talc had “dangerously high, completely unacceptable, levels of asbestos.”

As word of the South Korean action spread to the U.S public health community, FDA was asked whether it was sure that talc used here was asbestos free.

The agency repeated its talc mantra that it “relies on mine operators, importers and cosmetic and consumer product makers to ensure the safety of what they sell.”

And later from that same news report we see what this industry self-regulation is getting us, or not, in terms of protection from exposure to asbestos-contaminated talc:

In its examination of the relationship between asbestos and talc in 360 commercial sized and smaller U.S. talc deposits, the USGS reported that “a number of U.S. talc deposits of commercial size . . . . consistently contain talc intergrown with (asbestos) … such as tremolite and (or) anthophyllite,” and that “the amounts differ from none detected to trace to significant amounts of asbestos.”

But many safety experts are more concerned about the enormous volumes of often-cheaper foreign talc being used in the United States.

Import Genius, a commercial operation which tracks shipping activity of millions of products around the world, provided data that showed that in the last 18 months more than 1,400 shipments of talc or talc products were sent into the U.S. from 34 countries.

If someone diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma has no known exposure to the traditional asbestos-containing products such as thermal insulation and fire-proofing materials, investigators are now looking into the possibility that it was their use of beauty or cosmetic products that had asbestos-contaminated talc which may have been the cause of the mesothelioma.


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Medical Study Of Amatuximab Plus Pemetrexed And Cisplatin In Patients With Unresectable Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Shows Positive Results

This recent article, “Phase II Clinical Trial of Amatuximab, a Chimeric Antimesothelin Antibody with Pemetrexed and Cisplatin in Advanced Unresectable Pleural Mesothelioma”, initially published online in September 2014 by the Clinical Cancer Research medical journal, informs about an apparent advancement made in the treatment on malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM).

From the Abstract for this medical journal article:

Purpose: Amatuximab is a chimeric monoclonal antibody to mesothelin, a cell surface glycoprotein highly expressed in malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). On the basis of its synergy with chemotherapy in preclinical studies, we evaluated the antitumor activity of amatuximab plus pemetrexed and cisplatin in patients with unresectable MPM.

Conclusions: Amatuximab with pemetrexed and cisplatin was well tolerated with objective tumor response or stable disease rate of 90% by independent radiologic review. Although [progression-free survival (PFS)] was not significantly different from historical controls, the median [overall survival (OS)] was 14.8 months with a third of patients alive and 5 continuing to receive amatuximab at the time of analysis.

We will continue to monitor the medical journal for mesothelioma treatment developments.


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Mesothelioma And Cancers Caused By Asbestos-Contaminated Talc In Body Powder Products And Cosmetics: New Scientific Study Provides Evidence Of Asbestos Fibers In Talc

An article by investigative reporter Andrew Schneider, “Study: Cosmetic talc products carry asbestos peril”, about the asbestos-talc mesothelioma cancer situation is frightening, as you will see, and perhaps fittingly it was published on Halloween day, October 31, 2014.

From the start of this recent news report:

Talc, the fine, powdery mineral used in thousands of consumer products by everyone from newborns to the elderly, can be a killer when it’s contaminated with asbestos, which some public health experts say happens far more often than miners and manufacturers acknowledge.

In an explosive new study, scientists from three different laboratories worked for more than a year to track asbestos-contaminated talc from the mines to a popular body-powder product, then into the lung tissue of a woman who died of asbestos-caused mesothelioma after years of using the product.

This detailed article goes on to examine an extensive study on mesothelioma and talc products published online in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health in September 2014. As regards that study:

“We have traced the asbestos in the talc to the mines from which it originated, into the milled grades, into the product, and finally into the lung and lymph nodes of the users of those products, including one woman who developed mesothelioma,” the study reported.

During their testing, they found that the talcum powder used by the victim — Cashmere Bouquet — “contained identifiable asbestos fibers with the potential to be released into the air and inhaled during normal personal talcum powder application.”

The bottom line is that asbestos-contaminated talc is found in many personal-use products — cosmetics, body powder, baby powder, and the talc used by barbers.

We will be writing more about this asbestos-talc mesothelioma cancer situation in the coming weeks.


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Mesothelioma Asbestos Cancer Cases Are Not Limited To Working Men Only, As Is Sometimes Thought To Be The Situation

Although it is out of the United Kingdom, this October 30, 2014 news article, “Asbestos legacy: The families fighting for compensation”, is instructive to people in the US insofar that it provides insight as to the various difficulties in getting legal compensation for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

Moreover, this BBC Scotland report also demonstrates that mesothelioma asbestos cancer cases are not limited to working men, as is sometimes thought to be the situation among those with no personal experience.

Consider the story of Mary Campbell, for example:

Mary Campbell, 76, is far from the stereotype of someone with terminal cancer…

Two years ago, she was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an aggressive form of incurable lung cancer almost always caused by asbestos exposure. She describes herself as feeling “absolutely gobsmacked”.

She is one of a growing group of women diagnosed with the disease. Mary’s ex-husband was an electrician in Ninewells, where asbestos was commonly used. Every day she used to wash his overalls after work.

And then there is the tragic story of Francis Hamilton:

Frances Hamilton died of mesothelioma in 2014 – the same disease that killed her mother 28 years before….

She said she was 15 when she started helping her mother at work…

“It was extremely dusty work,” said Frances in her legal statement. “I distinctly remember my arms and hands being itchy with the sharp fibres caused from the asbestos being in my skin.”

Frances said her mother, Lizzie McLellan, worked on boiler covers for steam locomotive engines, and that Lizzie had to sew “huge asbestos mats” together.

Unfortunately, here in the US, too, there are stories like these two which involve women exposed to asbestos years ago later developing malignant mesothelioma.


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Five Basic Medical Facts About Bronchogenic Carcinoma or Lung Cancer Caused By Asbestos Exposure

For some basic facts about asbestos-related lung cancer, or bronchogenic carcinoma, we will draw upon an article, “Asbestos: When the Dust Settles—An Imaging Review of Asbestos-related Disease”, which was published in the October 2002 edition of RadioGraphic medical journal.

  1. The link between asbestos exposure and lung cancer has been suspected since the 1930s but was proved in the 1950s.

  2. Amphiboles [(one type of asbestos fiber)] are more potent than chrysotile [(another type of asbestos fiber)] in inducing lung cancer (between 10 and 50 times greater potency has been quoted).

  3. The latent period is variable. Some cases occur less than 10 years after exposure, but the risk is increased until at least 30 years later. One report cited a lag of 50 years.

  4. The exact mechanism of carcinogenesis is unclear. Asbestos-related cancers can occur anywhere in the lungs. The evidence regarding a link between asbestos and a particular histologic type or lobar distribution of lung cancer is somewhat contradictory.

  5. The investigation and staging of asbestos-related lung cancers are the same as for non-asbestos-related cancers. The prognosis is similar to that for non-asbestos-related lung cancers, but the restrictive effect of coexistent asbestosis or diffuse pleural thickening could compromise patients’ respiratory function and fitness for attempted resection.

[Footnotes omitted.]

Asbestos lung cancer cases can be filed as lawsuits against the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products used in the past or their respective asbestos bankruptcy trusts.


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The Disturbing Story Of What Asbestos Exposure Has Done To The People Of Ambler, Pennsylvania, In The Past And Up To The Present Time, As Regards Asbestos-Related Diseases

Today’s post is a follow-up to one we wrote back in July 2014, “Penn Medical School Will Study Cluster Of Mesothelioma Cases In Ambler, PA, The Site Of A Long-Closed Asbestos Factory”.

In an October 19, 2014 article,  “Penn study seeks to track Ambler’s asbestos legacy”, reporter Sandy Bauers, of the Philadelphia Inquirer, brings to life the story behind this upcoming medical study and provides the human aspect of this most unfortunate situation.

From that Inquirer news article:

Joe Amento, a lifelong resident of Ambler, was 53 when he died of a rare cancer with one main cause – exposure to asbestos.

He was fine at Christmas 2002. In January, a pain in his side kept him awake at night. He was found to have the disease in March. Before August, he was gone.

He left a wife, two children, and a community that to this day wrestles with the uncertain legacy of the huge asbestos factories that once brought the town jobs and prosperity, then sickness and death.

Amento never worked in the factories. He simply lived nearby. But his father, like many, found a job there as a young Italian immigrant.

Although the last factory closed decades ago, the piles of asbestos waste have remained in what are now two Superfund sites.

Even as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency monitors the completed cleanup at one site, and heavy machinery growls as it progresses at the second, many in the community remain edgy.

Mesothelioma has a 40-year latency period – the time between exposure and sickness. So people who have lived or worked just blocks away wonder: “Am I going to get sick?”

The University of Pennsylvania’s Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology has received a $10 million federal grant to seek answers….

And later from that same insightful article:

When the first of Ambler’s factories began making asbestos insulation in 1897, little was known – or later acknowledged – about the harm the tiny fibers could do to the human lungs.

As time passed, the piles of asbestos-containing waste outside the plants grew so high that people dubbed them the white mountains of Ambler. One topped out at 92 feet.

Even in summer, children sledded down the hills on flattened cardboard boxes. The area was a magnet for kids with bikes. Joe Amento was among them, said his brother, Pete.

The two sites total about 55 acres, a big chunk of land in the small, quaint town of Ambler, which was built around the factories as workers moved in.

A municipal park was once built atop the second site. It later was closed.

Even today, playgrounds, backyards, and businesses are less than a block away. That big hill behind the McDonald’s on West Butler Pike near the train station? It’s a dirt-encased pile that contains asbestos.

It seemed every family knew someone who had a lung disease. Joe Amento’s father died of asbestosis….

This in-depth piece of reporting about what has happened, and is still happening, in Ambler, Pennsylvania due to asbestos exposure — both occupational and “environmental”, if you will — is worth your time if you have any interest in the tragedy of asbestos-related diseases.


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Pleural Disease Diagnosis Indicates Signifcant Past Exposure To Asbestos And Means There Is An Increased Risk Of Asbestosis, Lung Cancer, Or Mesothelioma

The commonly encountered asbestos-related conditions and diseases mainly relate to the lungs. These include pleural effusion, pleural plaques, and diffuse pleural thickening — collectively referred to as benign pleural disease — as well as asbestosis, lung cancer, and malignant pleural mesothelioma.

In this post we focus on the several types of pleural disease associated with asbestos exposure. For the basic facts we will draw upon an article, “Asbestos: When the Dust Settles—An Imaging Review of Asbestos-related Disease”, which was published in the October 2002 edition of RadioGraphic medical journal.

As an introduction, while asbestosis, asbestos lung cancer, and mesothelioma may be more well-known asbestos-related medical conditions, pleural disease is the most commonly encountered asbestos-related disease. Pleural disease can occur as pleural effusion, plaques, or thickening, as well as atelectasis.

From the above mentioned RadioGraphic medical journal article:

Pleural Effusion

Benign pleural effusions are thought to be the earliest pleural-based phenomenon (1) (Fig 1)…. They usually occur within 10 years of exposure (12), but they can also develop much later…. The development of effusions is thought to be exposure-dependent (11), but they can occur even after minimal exposure (13) and can be dependent on occupation (11).

Pleural Plaques

The most common manifestation of asbestos exposure is pleural plaques, which are discrete areas of fibrosis that usually arise from the parietal pleura but may arise from visceral pleura. They tend to occur 20–30 years after exposure (1). The classic distribution of plaques seen on chest radiographs is the posterolateral chest wall between the seventh and tenth ribs, lateral chest wall between the sixth and ninth ribs, the dome of the diaphragm (virtually pathognomonic), and the mediastinal pleura (1,14) (Fig 2).

Diffuse Pleural Thickening

Diffuse pleural thickening is less specific for asbestos exposure because other causes of exudative effusions can lead to it. It results from thickening and fibrosis of the visceral pleura, which leads to fusion with the parietal pleura (Fig 7), and is preceded by benign pleural effusion (1) (Fig 8). Histologically, there is similarity between pleural thickening and plaques, except that fusion of the pleural layers is suggestive of more intense inflammation (22).

Round Atelectasis

The pathogenesis of round atelectasis is not certain, but it is thought to be due to an inflammatory reaction and fibrosis in the superficial layer of the pleura. As the fibrous tissue matures, it contracts, causing pleura to fold into the lung, which in turn causes atelectasis (28). Asbestos-related round atelectasis is also known as asbestos pseudotumor or Blesovsky syndrome.

The typical chest radiographic appearance is of a rounded peripheral “mass” with or without lung distortion (Fig 10a). Pleural thickening is usually seen. The CT features are of a round or oval mass that abuts the pleura, a “comet tail” of bronchovascular structures going into the mass, and thickening of the adjacent pleura (1,29) (Figs 10b, 11).

The medical significance of a diagnosis of pleural disease is that it often indicates there has been a significant past exposure to asbestos and, as such, it probably means that there is an increased risk of developing asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma for that person.


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PD-L1 May Be A Possible Immunotherapy Target In Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma According To New Research Presented At The 2014 European Society For Medical Oncology Congress In Madrid, Spain

This is our second post from a recent European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) report about some of the research results presented ESMO 2014 Congress in Madrid, Spain.

Our first post, from last week, was “Radiation Therapy After Chemotherapy And Surgery For Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Does Not Improve Outcomes In Terms Of Time To Recurrence / Relapse Nor Overall Survival”.

Now from that same ESMO report, “Studies report new findings on treatment options for mesothelioma”, we learn that when a protein called programmed cell-death ligand 1 (PD-L1) that is found in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) they tend to have poorer outcomes. In turn, this presents the issue of whether PD-L1 is a possible immunotherapy target in mesothelioma.

Here is some of the research on this issue that was presented at the ESMO 2014 Congress:

“We report that PD-L1 is expressed in 20% of malignant pleural mesothelioma patients and is associated with poor outcome, which suggests that this pathway could be targeted with PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors,” says study author Dr Susana Cedres, from Vall d’Hebron Institute Oncology, Barcelona, Spain….

Most importantly, patients who were negative for PD-L1 expression survived around 11 months longer than patients who were positive for PD-L1 expression (median survival 4.79 vs 16.3 months)….

“The results of our study could offer new treatment to this population of patients, identifying a subset of malignant pleural mesothelioma who expressed PD-L1 and could be treated with targeted therapies to PD-L1,” Cedres says.

We will continue to watch for new studies about good treatments for mesothelioma going forward.


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Radiation Therapy After Chemotherapy And Surgery For Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Does Not Improve Outcomes In Terms Of Time To Recurrence / Relapse Nor Overall Survival

At the recent ESMO 2014 Congress in Madrid, Spain, researchers presented new data about mesothelioma treatment outcomes involving radiotherapy, also known as radiation therapy.

From this European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) report about some of the research results presented that conference, “Studies report new findings on treatment options for mesothelioma”:

“Mesothelioma remains a difficult disease to find better treatment options for, so we asked whether high-dose hemithoracic radiotherapy would decrease the rate or delay the time of local recurrence after chemotherapy and radical surgery,” says lead author Prof Rolf A. Stahel, from the Clinic and Policlinic for Oncology, at the University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland, and current President of the European Society for Medical Oncology….

While there had been preliminary evidence suggesting that the addition of radiotherapy might improve outcomes, the study failed to find any differences in relapse-free survival between patients treated with the additional radiotherapy, and those who were not.

Stahel says researchers were hoping for a more positive signal from the study. “We aimed for a six month delay in local recurrence, which would be meaningful because it’s an aggressive treatment for patients.”

In summary, Stahel says, “It demonstrates that, like in other solid tumours, when two modalities are not sufficient it’s very rare that the third modality
added would make a benefit.”

In our next post we will report on another malignant pleural mesothelioma study that was presented at the ESMO 2014 Congress.


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Medical Study Confirms That Peritoneal Mesothelioma And Pleural Mesothelioma Can Develop Up To 50 Years After Person’s First Exposure To Asbestos

A new medical study out of Australia examined the long-term impacts of asbestos exposure and highlighted the duration of the increased risk of getting mesothelioma.

Peritoneal mesothelioma and pleural mesothelioma are are almost always caused by asbestos exposure.

From a news article about this Australian study, “Mesothelioma risk endures over long-term”:

Researchers used conditional logistic regression to model the relationship between the time since first asbestos exposure and the risk of pleural mesothelioma and the rarer peritoneal mesothelioma.

They found the rate and risk of pleural mesothelioma increased until 45 years after the first exposure. After 45 years the risk rate then appeared to slow down.

However, the rate of peritoneal mesothelioma over 10-50 years continued to increase….

“The risk of mesothelioma does not appear to decline over time and this stresses that the need to prevent people being exposed to asbestos is paramount.”

We know that mesothelioma is a devastating disease from our legal representation of workers and their families in lawsuits filed against asbestos companies as well as workers’ compensation claims against employers.


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