Some cases of the lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) may be linked with asbestos exposure, according to the results of a new study.
If confirmed, the findings would mean that current treatment strategies need to be altered as people with a history of asbestos exposure are not currently able to access new treatments for IPF.
The research, which was presented at the European Respiratory Society’s International Congress today, provides new mortality data for IPF, asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Asbestosis is the name given to the lung disease developed by people with a known history of exposure to asbestos. The symptoms and presentation of this disease can be identical to IPF; the only difference between the two diseases is whether a patient knows about their exposure to asbestos. People with asbestosis are not currently eligible for new treatments for IPF, despite the fact that these treatments work on curing an identical disease.
Researchers have suggested that a proportion of IPF may be due to unknown exposure to asbestos. They analysed mortality rates for IPF, asbestosis and mesothelioma across England and Wales. Data were obtained from the Office of National Statistics on the annual number of deaths due to IPF, mesothelioma and asbestos for the period 1974–2012, broken down by age, sex and region.
The analysis revealed national and regional correlations between the three diseases, which supports the theory that a proportion of IPF cases are due to unknown exposure to asbestos. If this asbestos exposure was known, it would be likely that these patients were diagnosed with asbestosis rather than IPF.
There were also high rates of IPF deaths in particular regions in the northwest and southeast of England, which has a history of shipyard work and therefore potential exposure to asbestos dust.
Lead researcher, Dr Carl Reynolds from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, said: “The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that a proportion of IPF cases are likely to be caused by unknown exposure to asbestos. More research is needed in this area, particularly as patients known to have asbestos exposure are not currently considered to be candidates for new treatments for IPF and this may be inappropriate.”
Based on a press release from the European Respiratory Society
Article text (excluding photos or graphics) available under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons license.
Photos and graphics subject to third party copyright used with permission or © Imperial College London.
Leave a comment
Your comment may be published, displaying your name as you provide it, unless you request otherwise. Your contact details will never be published.