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Mesothelioma and the multiple dangers of asbestos exposure

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While it is common knowledge that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, much of the public is unaware that exposure to asbestos can also cause lung cancer. It has been proven that those who have been exposed to asbestos and continue to smoke cigarettes, the risk of developing lung cancer is increased by as much as 90 times. These individuals are also at a greater risk of developing both asbestosis and mesothelioma.

There is hope for smokers who have experienced asbestos exposure. Evidence has suggested that asbestos-exposed workers who quit smoking can reduce their risk of developing lung cancer by up to 50 percent within five years of quitting. According to statistics from the Environmental Working Group, about 5,000 people in the United States pass away each year from asbestos-related lung cancer.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure. The condition develops when the fibers of asbestos are inhaled or ingested and become lodged in the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma), heart (pericardial mesothelioma), or abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma).

In most instances, a mesothelioma disease takes anywhere between 20 and 50 years to develop. In addition to experiencing difficulty breathing and swallowing, extreme weight loss is also a side effect of mesothelioma cancer.

Asbestos exposure can occur at home or in the workplace through everyday products such as roofing shingles, floor and ceiling tiles, insulation, brake pads, boilers and more. Industries that have placed workers most at risk of exposure include the automotive, construction, electrical, power plant and shipyard industry.

Because of the long latency period that is associated with asbestos-related disease, it is absolutely crucial for exposed victims to seek medical examinations on a regular basis. Many patients are often diagnosed when the disease has already reached an advanced stage of development.

Household members of those working with asbestos should also receive routine examinations because secondary exposure can also cause mesothelioma. In most cases, the fibers that make up asbestos are carried home on the skin and clothes of workers and are later inhaled by family members.

It is important to understand that any disturbance to an asbestos-containing material can result in the release of asbestos fibers. Medical checkups are especially important for anyone who may have been exposed to asbestos several decades ago.

Additional information about mesothelioma and asbestos exposure may be found through the Mesothelioma Center.

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