What are the risk factors for mesothelioma?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The main risk factor for mesothelioma is contact with asbestos. In the past, asbestos was used for insulation because it does not conduct heat well and doesn’t easily melt or burn. It was also used in other products such as floor tiles, door gaskets, roofing, and patching compounds.
If asbestos fibers are breathed in, they travel to the ends of the small air passages and reach the lining of the lungs. There they can damage the mesothelial cells or the lining of the lung cells. If swallowed, these fibers can also reach the lining of the abdominal cavity where they play a part in causing a cancer called peritoneal mesothelioma. As the link between asbestos and cancer has become well known, use of this material has decreased. All use stopped after 1989.

The following may increase chances of developing mesothelioma:

Radiation - There have been a few published reports of pleural and peritoneal mesotheliomas that developed following exposure to thorium dioxide (Thorotrast).

Zeolite - This is a silicate mineral, chemically related to asbestos, common in the soil of the Anatoli region of Turkey. Many cases of mesothelioma have been described in this region and may have been caused by this mineral.

Tobacco Smoking - the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure also greatly increases the risk of lung cancer.

SV40 Virus - Some recent studies have raised the possibility that infection with simian virus 40 (SV40) might increase a person's risk of developing mesothelioma.


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