Malignant mesothelioma is a terrible disease. This type of cancer attacks the mesothelium, which is the tissue that line the organs, including the lungs, heart, abdominal organs, and testicles. Rates of long term survival for those with mesothelioma are low, with the majority of cases resulting in death.
Another tragic fact about mesothelioma is that in most cases, the cancer is completely preventable, and would not have occurred but for prolonged exposure to asbestos. This article provides information about the causes of mesothelioma, and what to do if you are diagnosed with mesothelioma.
While there are a number of factors that increase a person’s risk of developing mesothelioma, the precise cause of mesothelioma is not always understood, as reported by Cancer.org.
Understanding the cause of mesothelioma, begins with understanding what cancer is, and how cancer develops. Cancer is a mutation of, or damage to, the DNA of the body’s cells. These genetic mutations of a cell will cause the cell to grow and multiply; this is cancer.
Genetic mutations in the genes can occur in response to environmental factors (like pollutants that we are exposed to, the food we eat, etc.) and/or genetic factors. If a parent has cancer, for example, the child of that parent is usually at an increased risk of developing the cancer (an increased risk of cancer does not mean that the individual will develop it).
Researchers have not pinned down the exact cause of mesothelioma; however, they have identified a number of risk factors. These include:
- SV40 Virus;
- Zeolites; and
- Asbestos exposure.
Gender, age, SV40 virus, and zeolites can all affect a person’s risk of developing mesothelioma. However, these are rarely the primary causes of mesothelioma. Cancer.org shares the following information about these risk factors:
- Men are more likely to develop mesothelioma than are women. Rather than gender and genetics alone, this may be because men are more likely to work in industries where asbestos exposure was common.
- It is rare for children to develop mesothelioma (although cases of mesothelioma in children have been reported). The older a person gets, the higher their risk of developing the cancer. About 65 percent of people who develop mesothelioma are over the age of 64.
- SV40 virus. Up to 30 million people in the U.S. have been exposed to the SV40 virus, which stands for simian virus 40. In fact, between the years of 1955 and 1963, there are reports that certain polio vaccines that were distributed were contaminated with SV40. Those who have been exposed to SV40 virus show an increased risk of mesothelioma development.
- Radiation treatment is common for cancer patients, but unfortunately, treatment with radiation has been linked to an increased risk of mesothelioma. The injection of the radioactive material thorium dioxide, which was used prior to the 1950s, has also been linked to mesothelioma.
- Zeolites are similar, chemically, to asbestos minerals. They are naturally occurring, and are prevalent in parts of Turkey. Exposure to these minerals increases the risk of mesothelioma.
By far the biggest risk factor that is associated with mesothelioma, and the most common cause of the cancer, is prolonged exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a collection of naturally occurring minerals that are found throughout the world in rocks and soil. The fibers were once heavily used in manufacturing and building, and those who worked in these industries may have been heavily exposed to the fibers.
When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can embed themselves in the lining of the lung and the chest. This causes damages to the cells, which can then develop into cancer. In many cases, mesothelioma develops 20 years after exposure to the fibers occurred, making the disease that much more shocking and unexpected.
Those who are most at risk for asbestos exposure and mesothelioma are those who worked in factories, the automotive industry, as electricians, and the construction industry, with boilers or pipes.
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Mesothelioma Lawyer. If you or someone that you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, I can help you understand your rights and how to file a civil action to recover compensation for your losses. Give me a call anytime at (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly advice.
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