Thursday, May 28, 2015

Cracking the Code: Have We Found the Cause of “Idiopathic” Mesothelioma Among U.S. Women?

For years now the asbestos industry has denied full responsibility for mesothelioma among women in the U.S.  They have argued that for most women, mesothelioma is “idiopathic,” meaning “we don’t know what caused it” but, parenthetically, wink-wink, “we didn’t.”

They cite to all kinds of junk science to support their litigation-driven argument.  One report says that asbestos causes only 20% of mesothelioma diagnosed in U.S. women. [E.N. Pavlisko and T.A. Sporn] While another posits that 60% of mesothelioma diagnosed in U.S. women is simply “idiopathic,” a conclusion derived from the simple fact that these women did not have “occupational” exposure (as opposed to “domestic,” or “environmental” or whatever bizarre box they construct to shift liability).  [A Lacourt, C Gramond, et al, Feb. 7, 2014]

Watson and Crick
Cracking the Genetic Code
Boiled down, their argument is that: 1) only amphibole asbestos causes mesothelioma; 2) amphibole asbestos was used primarily in insulation and construction materials, 3) men (not stay at home women) primarily worked with amphibole asbestos materials; 4) ergo, asbestos primarily causes mesothelioma in men, not women.  

If you’re an asbestos company, this is a great, albeit self-serving, argument.  Most asbestos products sold in the U.S. contained mainly “chrysotile,” not “amphibole,” asbestos.

Not surprisingly, companies that made products with chrysotile asbestos routinely defend mesothelioma lawsuits based on this same argument.  Namely, they seek to prove that the patient was exposed to amphibole asbestos, which they agree causes mesothelioma, at some time in his or her lifetime.  They then try to convince the jury that it was the amphibole asbestos, not their “asbestos lite” chrysotile, that is the culprit.

Fortunately, most juries like solid evidence based on real science.

Recently, a jury in Los Angeles County considered these arguments and found them wanting.  As we have reported, the Winkel case involved claims against Colgate-Palmolive, which sold Cashmere Bouquet, a talcum powder laced with asbestos, for over five decades

It turns out that Cashmere Bouquet was impregnated with both kinds of asbestos – chrysotile and amphibole, depending on which of the three mines they sourced their talc.

As reported, this was the first case that made it to trial against Colgate-Palmolive.  For years the talcum powder industry has spent millions to crush plaintiffs and their lawyers who dared to prove their case to a jury.  As one of their lawyers warned us early on: if you continue this case, we will destroy you, your practice, your clients and your experts.

Why did they fight so ruthlessly?  Like their life depended on it?  We think we know why.

Go back to that high number of conveniently unexplained U.S. women diagnosed with mesothelioma.  Over 60%, they argued, were idiopathic.  Well, idiopathic simply means “we didn’t look hard enough.”  Truth is, they didn’t want anyone taking a hard look at their talcum powder.  You can’t blame them.  If you do look hard, the talcum powder industry is in big trouble.

No matter what box you throw it in – “occupational,” “environmental,” “domestic” or whatever - it’s the worst kind of exposure.  Millions of women used talcum powder.  They used it daily.  They liberally applied it all over their bodies.  They sprinkled it on their undergarments.  They powdered it on their babies.  The intended use of the product generated gobs of visible, fine and respirable dust.  And they never warned anyone that that fragrant fluffy white powder contained toxic and deadly asbestos.

Now questions are being asked.  What other cancers are caused by talcum powder?  For years women have been contracting ovarian cancer and we’ve never fully understood why.  Is ovarian cancer linked to talcum powder?  A jury recently answered “yes” to that question in a case against Johnson and Johnson (see

Did we crack the code?  For the last 50 years how many of those U.S. women with “idiopathic” mesothelioma regularly used talcum powder after showering?  Our hunch is plenty.  And the sad part is the talcum powder industry has gotten away with it.


May 28, 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

3rd Annual, “The Greatest Escape” Motorcycle Ride is Back with Grand Marshal Fabio, Register Now!

Worthington & Caron is thrilled to announce that it will again serve as lead sponsor for the 3rd Annual “The Greatest Escape” Motorcycle Ride for Mesothelioma Research in Los Angeles. “The Greatest Escape” is inspired by actor and motorcycle enthusiast Steve McQueen, whose vibrant life was cut short by mesothelioma at the age of 50 on November 7, 1980. The Greatest Escape is hosted by The Pacific Mesothelioma Center (PMC) at the Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (PHLBI), with 100% of proceeds supporting PMC’s much-needed research for a cure for mesothelioma.

“The Greatest Escape” will take place on Sunday July 26, 2015. Sign-in and day of event registration begins at 8:30 AM, with the ride taking off at 10 AM from Glendale Harley-Davidson located at 3717 San Fernando Rd in Glendale. Riders will cruise along scenic Angeles Crest Highway led by this year’s celebrity grand marshal, actor/model and motorcycle enthusiast Fabio Lanzoni. The ride will finish at the legendary mountain-top roadhouse, Newcomb’s Ranch.

Upon arriving at Newcomb’s ranch, riders can kick back in the shade of the surrounding redwoods, enjoy a barbeque lunch, quench their thirst with a cold craft beer and be entertained by the rock band Cherry & the Bulldogs. There will also be raffle prizes and a live auction. K-Earth 101’s Morning Show host, Gary Bryan, will MC the event.

Registration for riders is $40, and $30 for passengers who pre-register by July 25, 2015. Day of event registration is $45 for riders and $35 for passengers. Participants will receive a commemorative pin, bandanna, and lunch. Non-riders are also welcome to join for $25 which covers lunch, entertainment, and parking.

For more information, sponsorship opportunities and to register please visit, or contact Clare Cameron at 310-478-4678, or via email:

The last two years raised over $100,000 for mesothelioma research! Help us break the record!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Deaths Caused by Exposure to Asbestos Much Higher Than Previously Estimated

The  Environmental Working Group (EWG) is reporting that the number of deaths caused by asbestos related disease in the U.S. is much higher than previously believed. Extensive analysis done by EWG Action Fund concludes that approximately 15,000 Americans die every year from asbestos-related diseases, that’s 5,000 more than previous estimates of 10,000 a year.

EWG analyzed death records from the Centers for Disease Control for 1999 to 2013, identifying all deaths attributed solely or in part to mesothelioma or asbestosis, and found that the actual number of deaths caused by exposure to asbestos is likely much higher. Asbestos exposure is now being linked in many cases to ovarian cancer, abdominal cancers, colorectal and laryngital cancers.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 107,000 people around the world die every year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Read the full report here.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

FACT- Here We Go Again

If we've learned one thing, it's this: the asbestos industry is incapable of doing the right thing. Their history speaks for itself.  A legacy of lying, poisoning, cheating, obfuscating and denying. Billions spent on covering up their crimes. Thousands  of preventable and premature deaths. Millions spent on lobbyists to change the laws to make it harder for victims to get to a jury. Nary a nickel invested in prevention or cure.

Every few years, the Asbestos industry gathers up their favorite politicians and prop up another bail out bill. The last one they called the FAIR act even though a six year old understood that the bill was anything but fair. The most recent effort is another fine tribute to George Orwell's dire warnings of the encroachment of "doublespeak" -- the FACT act (Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency). It's mission is to make it more difficult for asbestos cancer plaintiffs to get a fair trial with a chance for a full, honest and fair recovery. But, again, even a six year old understands that the only thing "transparent" about the FACT act is it's grotesque support of the abusers and abject criminalization of the abused.

Please read the article below posted by Susan Vento, whose husband Congressman Bruce Vento died from mesothelioma 15 years ago. (Susan has spoken out about this bill as far back as 2013.)  Bruce was one of the good guys. At the time, we advocated that Congress recognize Bruce's work by creating a mesothelioma research and treatment plan in his name. Congress, alas, looked the other way. Instead of launching an effort to cure asbestos cancer, they've instead chosen to spend the people's time ginning up embarrassing corporate bail out bills. 

Stay tuned. Like the Terminator, they're back, and they simply will not stop, unless we stop them. 
Asbestos Victims to Congress: Stop Fast-Tracking Legislation That Would Violate Victims' Privacy  By Susan Vento, May 13, 2015

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Spirit of John Johnson Alive and Well at the 2015 Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling

Karl Menzies
Wins the 2015
Dana Point Grand Prix
Dana Point, CA. The Men’s Pro race at the Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling this weekend exemplified what the John Johnson Family is all about – celebrating life, rewarding risks, never giving up, and going for the gusto.

John Johnson is well known on these pages. John passed away from mesothelioma in 2012. His family had every reason to be bitter. John was misdiagnosed by the VA. When he was diagnosed, an inexperienced VA surgeon attempted to operate on the tumor but aborted.

John finally found Dr. Robert Cameron, who performed a grueling 11 hour operation. But it would prove to be too late to save John from his unrelenting disease.

Wanting justice, John pursued a lawsuit against the companies who poisoned him with asbestos. His health was declining. But John knew that if he did not complete his testimony, the defendants would win and his family would be stuck with the ever-increasing bill for his illness.

One tough Marine, John hung on and preserved the record for his family so the case would live on. He passed away shortly after completing this final mission.

Michael Johnson Family
The Johnsons prevailed in their lawsuit, thanks to John’s warrior spirit and love of family. Thereafter, the Johnson family embraced John’s warrior spirit and has fought to prevent their tragedy from smacking down other families.

The Johnsons lobbied for a change in California law to make it less burdensome for ill plaintiffs to enforce their legal rights. They prevailed. They then lobbied to create a Mesothelioma Center of Excellence at the VA hospital in West Los Angeles, headed by Dr. Cameron. Again, they prevailed.

The Johnson family stands for hope, for life, and for winning, against impossible odds. For the past three years, they have been the lead sponsor of the Dana Point Grand Prix Pro Men’s race. Son Michael Johnson is a world class athlete, and he’s been using cycling as a vehicle to get the message of hope out for mesothelioma patients.

The racers heard the message. They went from the gun, all out, never looking back, not making excuses, and charged hard like it was their last race ever. A breakaway of four formed early and they held off the charging peloton at the line.

Roger Worthington, Mary and Terry
Latham and John Caron
Karl Menzies of United Health Care, a tough, savvy and muscular veteran pro hailing from Tasmania, took the victory. He was followed by youngsters Tyler Magner (Hincapie Racing), from Georgia, and Canadian Ryan Aitcheson of Team Astellas.

It was especially gratifying to have on hand another mesothelioma warrior, Terry Latham, and his lovely wife Mary. Terry, now 74 years old, was operated on by Dr. Cameron in June of 2010. Having recently celebrated his fifth year as a survivor, Terry continues to love life and go for the gusto!

Well done bike racers! Kudos to the City of Dana Point for hosting a world class event! Thank you John Johnson Family! And may the spirit keep moving you Terry and Mary Latham!


Roger Worthington

Future Pro Racer

Latest Lung-Sparing Therapies, Patient Resources and “Hollywood Ending” at Pacific Meso Center’s 5th International Symposium

Dr. Robert Cameron
The Pacific Meso Center, in conjunction with The Office of Continuing Medical Education of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, held the 5th International Symposium on Lung-Sparing Therapies for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma on May 2nd, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. The Worthington & Caron Law Firm was proud to again be the platinum sponsor of this unique medical seminar focusing on rational treatment options for patients with pleural mesothelioma.

As in years past, the course organizer and chair of the symposium was thoracic surgeon and pleural mesothelioma specialist, Dr. Robert Cameron. An ardent supporter of rational lung-sparing treatments for pleural mesothelioma, and innovator of the pleurectomy/decortication (“PD”) surgical procedure, Dr. Cameron is the founder and director of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at both the UCLA Medical Center and the West Los Angeles Veterans’ Administration Medical Center.

International Panel of Specialists Discuss Latest Treatment Developments

Dr. Walter Weder
Dr. Cameron started the program with a presentation regarding the pros and cons of extending lung-sparing surgery to include the diaphragm and pericardium. Reviewing relevant study data along with his experience treating patients at UCLA and the West Los Angeles VA, Dr. Cameron concluded that it is preferable to limit the procedure to where the tumor is already present. Resection of the diaphragm and pericardium poses a risk of spreading tumor cells distantly to the abdomen and contralateral pleura and is not necessary in most patients.

In a second presentation, Dr. Cameron addressed the potential role of vaccines as an immunotherapy agent in the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. He explained how vaccines can be used to overcome the immunosuppressive microenvironment of tumor cells. He sees a potential for using vaccines before, during and/or after lung- sparing surgery for pleural mesothelioma.

Dr. Walter Weder, Head of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at the University of Zurich Hospital in Switzerland, gave a presentation on his experience in transitioning from Extra-Pleural Pneumonectomy (“EPP”) to lung-sparing PD as the preferred surgical treatment for pleural mesothelioma. He also addressed a new study at the University of Zurich exploring the efficacy of a strategy to improve local control after surgery. The study, which is in its very early stages, involves spraying a mixture of Cisplatin and fibrin intraoperatively to the tumor site.

Dr. Percy Lee
Dr. Marc de Perrot, Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Toronto, addressed the present and future use of IMRT radiation therapy before surgery. He addressed a recent study showing encouraging results for patients with epithelial mesothelioma who received one week of hemithoracic IMRT before surgery. Dr. Perrot suggested that in future studies, the protocol should be refined to include an immunotherapy agent.

Three separate presentations regarding topics relating to adjuvant radiation therapies were presented by Dr. Percy Lee, Chief of Thoracic Radiation Oncology and member of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at UCLA Medical Center, Dr. Peter Chen, Radiation Oncologist at Hoag Family Cancer Institute, and Dr. Shilpen Patel, Associate Professor at the University of Washington Medical Center. The presentations revealed that recent advancements in technology and treatment methods, including helical tomotherapy, have decreased toxicity and increased the effectiveness of adjuvant radiation therapy.

Dr. Olga Olevsky
Dr. Olga Olevsky, Oncologist and member of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at UCLA, addressed recent developments in systemic therapies for pleural mesothelioma, including numerous immunotherapy treatments and treatments involving cancer stem cells. Dr. Olevsky indicated that as more systemic therapies become available, developments in identifying and correlating biomarkers may allow doctors to identify which therapy will be most effective for a given patient.

Dr. J. Andrea McCart, Associate Professor at the University of Toronto Department of Surgery, presented the results of a recent study regarding the use of virotherapy as adjuvant to debulking surgery for peritoneal mesothelioma. She also presented the results of animal studies involving the use of virotherapy in the treatment of pleural mesothelioma, concluding that the favorable results suggest that it should be developed for use in humans.

Dr. Raymond Wong
Pacific Meso Center Research Scientist Raymond Wong, PhD gave a presentation regarding the results of his study at the Pacific Meso Center Lab in Los Angeles using mesenchymal stem cells to deliver drugs to tumor cells to increase the effectiveness of immunotherapy agents. He noted the opportunity to incorporate delivery via mesenchymal stem cells with the many studies that are currently being conducted for the new PD-1 immune checkpoint blocking drugs.

Patient Resources and Advocacy

Lien Hua-Feng,
Nurse Practitioner
Lien Hua-Feng, Nurse Practitioner at the Pacific Meso Center, gave an eye-opening presentation regarding deceitful tactics employed by disreputable lawyers seizing on the vulnerability of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma. She provided examples of websites appearing to be maintained by medical professionals offering free assistance with medical treatment and contacting mesothelioma specialists. But the “disclaimer page” on the sites reveals that they are really maintained by a law firm and should not be relied upon for making medical decisions. She explained that, instead of getting reliable medical information, patients who contact the sites are besieged with calls from so-called “patient advocates” or attorneys seeking to sign them as clients. Nurse Hua-Feng warned patients of the importance of turning to “real” medical professionals for reliable medical information and experienced attorneys for reliable legal information.

Linda Reinstein, President and CEO of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, gave a presentation on recent legislation regarding asbestos and the status of her ongoing efforts to get congress to enact a meaningful ban of asbestos in the United States.

“Hollywood Ending”

Clare Cameron
Pacific Meso Center Executive Director Clare Cameron gave an enlightening presentation regarding the long-standing use of asbestos in the film industry and the number of actors and production workers who have been stricken with mesothelioma. She provided shocking statistics about the amount of asbestos used in such classic movies as “Wizard of Oz,” “White Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

The symposium concluded with an emotional presentation from Mia Lauter, wife of actor Ed Lauter, who appeared in over 550 feature productions and lost his life to mesothelioma in 2013. She explained that when Ed was diagnosed, the only treatment options his doctor told him about were chemotherapy and amputation of his lung though EPP. Ed eventually had chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter.

Mia expressed regret over not knowing about the Pacific Meso Center at the time, and how, with information about additional treatment options such as the lung-sparing treatments available through UCLA and Dr. Cameron, Ed’s situation could have been different.

Mia and Ed Lauter
Mia is converting her grief into action to improve the outcomes of others who contract mesothelioma, both in and out of the entertainment industry. She is working with PMC to hold a fundraising gala in November at the SLS Hotel in Hollywood. Ed’s good friend and former co-star Liam Neeson has committed to participate in the event which will raise much needed funds for mesothelioma research conducted by PMC.

Mia stated that when Ed was diagnosed, he and others afflicted with mesothelioma needed a “louder voice.” Now, with her commitment to raising awareness and the need for research, mesothelioma sufferers will have a “Lauter voice!”

The Pacific Meso Center plans to release videos of the symposium presentations on its website in the coming weeks.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Fight Mesothelioma, Raise Awareness, Have Fun

This Sunday, May 3, sunny Dana Point, California will host the 9th Annual Dana Point Grand Prix (DPGP). Professional cyclists, amateurs, and kids (yes kids!) will race around downtown Dana Point in the largest single day criterion race in America!

The races will begin at 7:00 a.m. sharp and will include 13 races total, including free Youth Races sponsored by the Dana Point Community Cycling Foundation. There will also be a $12,000 Pro Women’s criterium prize, the largest in Southern California history. It’s not all about cycling of course, there will be music, food, and craft beer to be enjoyed by all, cyclist or not.

In remembrance of John Johnson and his courageous fight against Mesothelioma, the Johnson Family is sponsoring the final event of the day, the John Johnson Family Pro NCC Classic for the third year in a row.  John Johnson was a veteran and plumber who was poisoned by asbestos, contracted mesothelioma, underwent aggressive treatment to prolong his life, but ultimately succumbed to the disease. 

John Johnson Family
After his death, the Johnson family set out to increase public awareness of this horrible disease which disproportionately affects military veterans, by providing substantial funding for a mesothelioma treatment center at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, and by pushing for changes in the law which impacts the rights of all mesothelioma sufferers. John’s son, Michael, is a competitive cyclist who will be participating in the day’s events and is also a hard-charging advocate and source of information and support for mesothelioma patients and their families.

We would love to see you there!

All Proceeds from the DPGP Youth Races benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Capistrano Valley.

For registration information, details, and directions, click here.