There is a solid relationship between cancer and asbestos. Asbestos is a mineral that is made up of many tiny fibers. When messed with, it creates a dust that can be breathed in and attaches to the lining of the lungs. It was very common to use asbestos decades ago because it was such a great insulator and is fireproof. It was used in many schools, houses and the military used it in vehicles. It was not known at the time that you could get cancer asbestos when exposed to the fibers.
The most common cancer that you can get is mesothelioma. This cancer forms in the mesothelial cells. These cells are around the lungs, heart and stomach. Cancer asbestos is a big concern in the United States. More cases of mesothelioma are showing up every year- between 2,000-4,000 each year. The cancer can be in your lungs for a while and it may take years before it starts to cause any issues. Men that worked in construction, the military, on demolition crews and for the railroad have a higher risk of ending up with cancer asbestos. Back when asbestos was first used, no one knew about the problems it could cause to the lungs.
We now know that masks are very important to use to keep the small fibers from being able to be breathed in. We also have an understanding of how the fibers from the asbestos stuck to clothing worn by workers and can pose a threat to family members. Anytime the clothing was moved, the fibers became airborne and could be breathed in by any family member. Workers today not only wear masks, but they are also given disposable haz-mat suits that they wear instead of wearing their street clothes. These suits can then be thrown away, and the worker can then take a shower before putting on their street clothes. Some companies have the workers wear the haz-mat suit over their street clothing. While this does provide some protection, no one knows how much.
Very few cases of mesothelioma have been caused by anything but asbestos. It can happen, but it is extremely rare. Cancer asbestos does have some symptoms that can include shortness of breath, chronic cough, chest pain and fatigue. These can be commonly confused with other problems but should be brought to the attention of your doctor. If you have worked with asbestos in the past, it would be wise to let your doctor know. Some people might have been exposed and not realized that they were around asbestos. Since it can take years for the cancer asbestos to show up, letting your doctor know that you once worked around it can make him aware to check your lungs on a regular basis.
Tips and comments
If you are every going to work where there could be asbestos follow these tips:
- Wear a mask. Anytime that you do any type of construction to your home, you should wear a mask to help with the dust.
- Try to wear protective clothing over your clothes.
- Keep the traffic to the area that is going through a make over to a minimum.