Because asbestos is resilient to extreme temperature and chemical reactions, it has become a leading component
of almost all kinds of construction and industrial materials manufactured today – from walls to windows to flooring
materials to furniture to home and commercial appliances and so on. But then, harmful effects of asbestos to human
health are not a new issue. In fact, in year 1989, the US government has declared the ban of asbestos in all kinds
of industries. The said banning was initiated by the Environmental Protection Agency. The danger that asbestos
brings to human health can be very
fatal. It can actually lead to cancer.
Why does asbestos cause cancer?
Good question. Perhaps the answer to this question lies on the components of asbestos and how it is
structured. According to experts, asbestos is carcinogenic in nature because of its shape, size, and its chemical
composition. It must be noted though that not all asbestos can cause cancer. The type of asbestos that is widely
used in commercial products contains the mineral called chrysotile which is a very harmful and toxic substance that
primarily causes cancer.
Asbestos is composed of extremely tiny particles that can only be seen through a specialized microscope.
There’s no wonder why it’s very difficult to remove it. It can get in to the body through inhalation. Since almost
all industrial products contain asbestos (especially those released before the banning of asbestos), majority of
the people are susceptible to asbestos-related diseases.
Asbestos that has long and thin fibers are more likely to stick to the lungs, according to experts. While
those that have short and larger fibers don’t usually settle in the lungs but can still lead to other
How can people get exposed to asbestos?
Since asbestos is present almost everywhere, exposure to this harmful substance is
very likely. It can be present in schools, buildings, churches, parks, workplaces, and in anyone’s home! When
a product that contains asbestos is disturbed, the asbestos fibers are released to the air and can easily get
in to the body through inhalation.
When a person inhales the air that is contaminated with asbestos, the fibers will go right through the
lungs. The larger and smaller fibers can be eliminated as the person coughs while the smaller particles will
necessitate a certain type of white blood (macrophage) cells to be removed. However, there are times that the
asbestos fibers are longer and more powerful than the macrophages that it becomes so much more difficult for these
cells to take the asbestos particles away from the lungs. So, the macrophages are crushed by the asbestos fibers
and they remain in the lungs until they have killed so many cells, leading to lung cancer.
Who are prone to asbestos-related health problems?
Most of the time, people who acquire asbestos cancer are those that work in construction companies and
manufacturing industries. Various studies were made and it was found that people who are working for plenty of
industries such as mining, shipbuilding, textile manufacturing, asbestos removal, car repair, electronics, and the
like have higher risk of acquiring asbestos-related diseases.
There are several kinds of cancer that may be developed through overexposure to asbestos. Most of them are
related to the lungs. But there were speculations that asbestos can also trigger colon cancer, throat, and other
forms of cancer. Perhaps, the mere fact that it weakens the immune system may be the reason why it can potentially
Asbestos is a disease characterized by the scarring of lungs.
This condition is incurable but according to health experts, the symptoms that asbestosis brings
can be managed through proper medications. Furthermore, this condition develops after 10-20 years
from the person’s initial exposure to asbestos. That’s how astonishing it is. Basically, asbestosis
is not a type of lung cancer but it can eventually lead to such ailments when neglected. The
symptoms include difficulty in breathing, constant coughing, pleural disorders such as pleural
thickening and pleural plaques.
Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. Aside
from its usual causes, too much exposure to asbestos can trigger the development of lung cancer.
With the advent of high-powered medical machines and equipments, lung cancer can already be treated
especially if diagnosed during its early stage. Smokers who are usually exposed to asbestos are
very prone to asbestos cancer.
The difference between lung cancer and Mesothelioma is that
the former can be caused by all other types of carcinogens that may be acquired through smoking,
exposure to second-hand smoke, and air pollution. On the other hand, Mesothelioma
is closely connected to asbestos. Perhaps, the only known cause of this
deadly disease is asbestos exposure. The rate of people acquiring this disease is very rare
Colorectal cancer, commonly called colon cancer in some way
has been associated with asbestos exposure. But experts are still debating about this. Some are
saying that the destruction of pleural plaques due to exposure to asbestos may lead to the
development of this cancer.
Since asbestos-related problems are hard to diagnose and takes longer before the symptoms can be observed,
many people receive treatments when it’s already too late. If you’re working in a company that deals with asbestos
related products or any construction companies for many years now, it’s very likely that you can acquire
respiratory diseases and some other ailments caused by asbestos. And even if you’re not working for any of these
industries, you can still get exposed to asbestos in your very home especially if it’s too old. Older buildings may
contain large amounts of asbestos and since the walls, insulations, and floors of infrastructures tend to deplete
over time, the asbestos fibers contained in these areas may be disturbed and get released in the air.
Undergoing medical checkups is necessary for treatment. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms
mentioned in the different types of asbestos-related diseases, consult your doctor right away. Asbestos cancer is
fatal, just like any other types of cancer. And since symptoms don’t occur unless the cancer has fully developed,
you’ll not know that you have it unless you seek professional help.
Treatments employed among patients vary. Of course, it will depend on the type of cancer and its degree.
For asbestos cancer, comprehensive treatments are necessary. It may include radiation and chemotherapy. It is
always recommended that people who have been gravely exposed to asbestos should visit their doctor from time to
time for early detection and diagnosis. It may happen that your lungs are very healthy last year but it doesn’t
mean your own battle against asbestos has stopped. Remember that it may take up to 20 years before asbestos
problems can be diagnosed. Medical doctors also recommend undergoing CT scans, x-rays, biopsy, microscopy and all
other diagnostic procedures for people heavily exposed to asbestos. If you’re suffering from cough that won’t go
away for weeks or months, if you’re having problems swallowing foods, abnormally losing weight, and experiencing
chest pain, you better consult your doctor. It may or may not be related to asbestos but it’s more likely that you
have problems with your respiratory system. You may also want to get vaccines that will protect you from flu and
Once diagnosed and confirmed that you have asbestos cancer or any related problem, be prepared to undergo
a serious medical treatment. Fortunately, asbestos-related diseases are usually covered by Medicare financial
assistance programs. The entire course of treatment may be very expensive so it’s always best to look for programs
instituted by the government to help you deal with your condition.
Why would you wait to undergo asbestos cancer treatment when you have the option to fight it in the first
place? As health experts have been telling us, prevention is better than cure. There are so many ways to prevent
yourself and your family from acquiring asbestos-related diseases. The first one is to remove asbestos from your
home. If you live in a very old house, you want to call asbestos experts to inspect walls, insulations, windows,
and floors for any trace of asbestos. They have specialized equipment that are used to detect and measure the
amount of asbestos in any material. Disturbed materials such as worn-out insulation pipes, cracked walls and floor
tiles are very dangerous because they release asbestos. Make sure you hire qualified contractors to remove asbestos
from your place.
Conclusion: Why does asbestos cause cancer?
The structure of this fibrous substance that is carcinogenic in nature is the reason why
asbestos can cause cancer. Since most people are exposed to asbestos in one way or another, everyone seems to be
prone to the life-threatening diseases that asbestos brings. Because asbestos cancer may not be detected until
after several years, many people think that they’re free from asbestos only to find out they have just acquired
incurable diseases. That is why most countries have enacted laws that have banned the use of asbestos. Still,
the old infrastructures and the abundance of asbestos in the environment make it impossible to eliminate this substance. However, asbestos-related diseases
are preventable. Early detection as well as removing
asbestos from homes, buildings, and other materials that are usually utilized by individuals is necessary to get
away from asbestos cancer.
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