CAUSES OF MESOTHELIOMA
Cancer Caused by Exposure to Asbestos
Mesothelioma is caused by breathing in asbestos fibers. Asbestos is a natural mineral that is mined from rock. It is composed of fibers that are as strong as steel, but can be woven like cotton, and are highly resistant to heat. For many years, asbestos was used in a wide variety of products.
When asbestos-containing products are removed, installed, disturbed or otherwise damaged, asbestos fibers are released that can be inhaled. Asbestos fibers are very fine, and upon inhalation, they can enter the smallest airways of the lung. Once this happens, the fibers cannot be coughed out. The body’s inability to remove the fibers leads to inflammation in the lung tissue.
Depending on the location of the disease, symptoms can include
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
- Irregular heartbeat
Many types of illnesses and diseases have these symptoms, so it is common for mesothelioma to go undiagnosed for many years, allowing the disease to grow and spread to the late stages and to cause greater harm to its victims. Early diagnosis and action are essential to a successful treatment plan.
Mesothelioma can be contracted from exposure to asbestos in the workplace, and family members of people who work in at-risk professions can be exposed by inhaling asbestos fibers brought home on the clothes of the family member. Mesothelioma usually develops 15 to 60 years after the asbestos exposure. The average time for contracting the illness is 30 to 40 years after exposure. Exposure to building materials that do not contain asbestos, such as fiberglass, does not cause mesothelioma, and smoking does not increase the risk of developing the disease.
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