JERUSALEM, June 18 (UPI) -- A senior Israeli doctor claims towns in northern Israel have one of the largest concentrations of people in the world suffering from a rare form of cancer.
Speaking at a conference Wednesday, Dr. Micha Bar-Hana, director of the Ministry of Health's cancer registry, said the number of people suffering from mesothelioma, caused by asbestos, is expected to rise in the coming years as residents of the area age, the Haaretz newspaper reported.
The disease is prevalent in Nahariya and the nearby Acre districts, and 19 people were diagnosed with it from 2002 to 2008, Haaretz quoted Bar-Hana as saying.
Statistically, its prevalence reached 5.72 per 100,000 residents, Bar-Hana said. Seven years ago, the rate in the Acre district was 3.55 per 100,000 residents, compared with the Tel Aviv district where the rate is 0.55 per 100,000 residents, the newspaper said.
In 1997, the country's only asbestos plant, located in Nahariya, was shut down, the newspaper said, adding that from 1990 to 2008 there were 606 cases of mesothelioma reported in Israel,.
The highest rate of asbestos-related cancer cases in the world is in Genoa, Italy, where the rate is 5.8 per 100,000, the newspaper said.