Asbestos and the Cancers Associated with Exposure

Asbestos is not man-made like most people believe. It is a highly-fibrous mineral (also called miracle mineral before the risks to health was discovered) that have the desired properties including durability, flexibility, and resistance to heat and chemical damage. Asbestos is always present in the environment but at very low levels.

Whole and intact asbestos is not harmful; but the asbestos fibers are tough and very tiny. They are not seen by the naked eye so they can be inhaled or ingested without notice. Individuals are more likely to get heavy asbestos exposure in the work place while performing high-risk and asbestos-related jobs.

Asbestos Causes Many Types of Cancer

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer, which is almost exclusively linked to heavy asbestos exposure, but about 2,000 new cases are diagnosed in the US every year

There are three types of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma develops in the lining of the lungs and considered as the most common. Peritoneal and pericardial esothelioma affect the membrane that surrounds the abdominal cavity and the heart, respectively.

The prognosis is poor because condition is often diagnosed in the advanced stages; mainly because symptoms are typically late to appear. There is no cure but different treatment options are available.

Lung cancer is not directly caused by asbestos but exposure to its fibers combined with smoking increases the risks. However, some evidences linked asbestos to both small-cell and non-small-cell lung cancer.

Kidney Cancer Many studies linked asbestos exposure to higher risk of kidney cancer.

Other cancerous illnesses include: colon, intestinal, esophageal, and gallbladder.

Where Does Frequent Exposure to Asbestos Occur?

It is more likely for people to get inflicted by harmful effects from asbestos exposure in the workplace, where microscopic fibers are at high levels in the air most of the time. These health-hazardous jobs include: construction and demolition work, shipbuilding and shipyard work, drywall removal and installation, firefighting and fireproofing, textile production, and automotive brake repair. Employers are responsible for the safety of their employees. Many countries have totally outlawed mining of asbestos but some still continue (like Canada and Russia).

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