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Setting new standards for epidemiological research on mesothelioma
  1. Paolo Boffetta1,
  2. Carlo La Vecchia2
  1. 1Tisch Cancer Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, USA
  2. 2Department of Clinical Sciences and Community Health, Milan University, Milan, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Paolo Boffetta, Tisch Cancer Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, One Gustave L Levy Place, New York, NY 10029, USA; paolo.boffetta{at}

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The paper by Gilham et al1 is important for a number of methodological and substantive reasons, and contributes novel information on the body of epidemiology evidence on the association between asbestos exposure and subsequent risk of pleural mesothelioma.

The use of lung fibre burden as a method to estimate past asbestos exposure has been advocated for a long time,2 and these authors have, for the first time, applied this approach to their large-scale population study, which has already provided important results on the association between asbestos and mesothelioma, based on conventional epidemiological indicators of exposure, that is, occupational categories and time-related factors.3 The method is not free from possible bias, in particular resulting from the difficulty in obtaining lung tissue samples from unbiased groups of mesothelioma cases and controls. In the study by Gilham et al, samples were analysed for 134 …

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  • Competing interests PB and CLV acted as expert witnesses in asbestos-related litigations.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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