Q What is mesothelioma and could I have gotten it from my job?
In 1960, a scientist by the name of J.C. Wagner, performed a study to discover the cause of mesothelioma—a form of cancer which specifically attacks the outer layer of organs called mesothelium cells. These cells are meant to help protect the organs from foreign bodies, but once mesothelioma sets in, the cells are destroyed.
Wagner’s four year study of 33 separate mesothelioma cases, concluded that most mesothelioma tumors centered in and around the outer lining of the lung (the pleura) and chest cavity. This suggested that the cancer was and is most likely a result of the inhalation of a foreign substance. He also determined that the commonality between all his study victims was asbestos exposure. Since 1960, numerous studies have confirmed Wagner’s theory and attribute (pleura) mesothelioma to asbestos inhalation and/or ingestion.
How Mesothelioma Damages Your Lungs
When you inhale asbestos, the long, thin fibers enter your respiratory system and become lodged in the lining of your lungs. Since there is no way to remove the tiny fibers, over time they begin to break down, releasing chemicals into your lungs while also causing cellular irritation over the course of 10–50 years. Constant asbestos exposure and inhalation increases the amount of fibers in the lungs—therefore increasing lung damage and the potential for your lungs to become carcinogenic. The following are some examples of how mesothelioma can damage your lungs:
- Cellular inflammation – Fibers irritate and puncture cells causing, tears and inflammation.
- Genetic mutations – Chemicals released from the fibers can have an effect on the cells at a genetic level, altering how they function.
- Foreign body induced damage – The breakdown of the “protective” cells, leaves the lungs susceptible to dangerous foreign bodies.
- Rapid increase of cellular production – Fibers can trigger the natural production of oncoproteins—as a defense mechanism against the foreign asbestos—which can cause cells to produce too quickly and thus becoming cancerous.
Asbestos is an extremely dangerous mineral that can take up to 50 years to show signs of damage. Unfortunately, asbestos is still widely used in processing plants, industrial worksites and construction areas similar to PPG, Westlake Chemical Corp and Trunkline LNG. When working in an industrial environment, don’t take chances—make sure you’re wearing protective gear at all times and follow up with your doctor on a regular basis to get checked for signs of asbestos exposure and potential mesothelioma.
Do you still have questions about mesothelioma or industrial workplace injuries? Contact us today for a free consultation or feel free to continue browsing our site for more information.