Factors that impact susceptibility to fiber-induced health effects

J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2011;14(1-4):246-66. doi: 10.1080/10937404.2011.556052.


Asbestos and related fibers are associated with a number of adverse health effects, including malignant mesothelioma (MM), an aggressive cancer that generally develops in the surface serosal cells of the pleural, pericardial, and peritoneal cavities. Although approximately 80% of individuals with MM are exposed to asbestos, fewer than 5% of asbestos workers develop MM. In addition to asbestos, other mineralogical, environmental, genetic, and possibly viral factors might contribute to MM susceptibility. Given this complex etiology of MM, understanding susceptibility to MM needs to be a priority for investigators in order to reduce exposure of those most at risk to known environmental carcinogens. In this review, the current body of literature related to fiber-associated disease susceptibility including age, sex, nutrition, genetics, asbestos, and other mineral exposure is addressed with a focus on MM, and critical areas for further study are recommended.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Asbestos / toxicity
  • Carcinogens, Environmental / toxicity
  • Chromosome Aberrations / chemically induced
  • Cocarcinogenesis
  • Disease Susceptibility / chemically induced*
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Mesothelioma / chemically induced
  • Mesothelioma / epidemiology
  • Mesothelioma / genetics
  • Mineral Fibers / toxicity*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Radiation Effects
  • Risk
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Zeolites / toxicity


  • Carcinogens, Environmental
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Mineral Fibers
  • erionite
  • Zeolites
  • Asbestos