CDC raises concerns over lung disease rates among dentists in the US

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The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has raised concerns over the prevalence of a rare, progressive lung disease in dentists. The condition Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is rare, but research has flagged up an unexpected spike in cases among dental professionals.

Studies show that around 200,000 people in the US suffer from IPF; however, the CDC has discovered that rates are significantly higher among dentists. Analysis of a small group receiving treatment for IPF at a clinic in Virginia highlighted eight cases involving dentists as well as a ninth case that was diagnosed in a dental technician. The figures suggest that dentists are 23 times more likely to develop IPF than the general population. The research has been published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The worrying thing about the discovery is that the CDC admits having limited ideas when it comes to connecting the high rates to the occupation. It is not known why dentists seem to be a lot more vulnerable to IPF than others, and investigators are baffled by the findings. It is clear that something related to the working environment is putting dentists at risk of IPF, but further research will be required to identify the risk factors.

IPF is a progressive lung disease, which causes scarring of the lung tissue. In time, it contributes to reduced oxygen flow to the major organs. The average survival time is just 3-5 years after diagnosis.

Over the past 21 years, data analysed from almost 900 patients at the Virginia clinic showed that nine patients had the same occupation.



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