Mesothelioma Lawyer

When Was It First Discovered That Asbestos Causes Mesothelioma?

When Was It First Discovered That Asbestos Causes Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma as a disease was a relative latecomer among the types of cancer. As late as 1960, many doctors disputed that it was a distinct form of cancer, and often described it simply as an atypical form of lung cancer. Although some say that mesotheliomas were observed in asbestos workers since the 1930s, these were more often described simply as lung cancer.

It was not until the late 1950s that the connection between asbestos and mesothelioma was definitively established. A South African doctor, Christopher Sleggs, began to notice that among the tuberculosis patients he was treating, some failed to respond to treatment. They were more apt to sicken and die than other patients, and in 1952, he performed autopsies that identified the existence of tumors in the lining of the lungs.

By 1956, he had identified thickening of the pleural membrane, which he attributed to mesothelioma. He noticed that all of the patients with this condition came from a region in which asbestos mining was being carried out. He sent asbestos-laden tissue to a researcher, who sent the material to J.C. Wagner who was investigating asbestos-related disease. Wagner had seen enough other cases by this point that he was convinced the condition was mesothelioma and that asbestos was the cause.

It was not until 1959 when the researchers reported this link, and when they did, they were careful to be circumspect about the connection, but by the time they were ready to publish in 1960, they had looked at 33 cases of pleural mesothelioma and 32 of the cases had asbestos exposure, though some cases the evidence of exposure was circumstantial. Industrial pressure served to keep their claims tentative for nearly a decade.

However, even a conclusive link between asbestos and mesothelioma did not stop industrial use of the mineral, which persisted until being banned. The main rationale was profitability: asbestos was relatively cheap and highly effective.

If you were exposed to asbestos any time after 1964, then you can be sure your employer knew there was a definitive link between the material and mesothelioma and put you at risk knowingly. If you would like to receive compensation for the injuries you sustained as a result, please contact The Law Office of Brown | Kiely, LLP today for a free consultation.