Asbestos exposure may be the cause of some cases of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, according to a study presented at the European Respiratory Society’s International Congress, as reported in an article by Sam Wong on the Imperial College London webpage (“Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis cases linked with asbestos exposure“).
If confirmed, wrote Wong, these results may represent a need to change current treatment strategies for people diagnosed with asbestosis that don’t have access to IPF treatments, even though IPF treatments can be effective in similar diseases.
According to the article, asbestosis’ symptoms and presentation can be very similar to IPF, and in some cases the knowledge of an exposure to the substance may influence whether or not a person is diagnosed with asbestosis or IPF.
In the study, researchers analyzed mortality rates for IPF, asbestosis, and mesothelioma between 1974 and 2012, suspecting that a proportion of IPF may result from unknown exposure to asbestos. They also observed high rates of IPF deaths in some regions of the northwest and southeast of England where potential exposure to asbestos dust, due to its heavy use existing shipyards, is plausible.
The lead researcher of this study, Dr. Carl Reynolds, from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London explained that, even though the “findings are consistent with the hypothesis that a proportion of IPF cases are likely to be caused by unknown exposure to asbestos,” it is necessary to deepen the research to reach conclusions.