The fact that asbestos causes cancer has been well known for over 100 years. Unfortunately, until the 1970s, many asbestos producers were keeping this knowledge from their workers. Since the disease doesn’t usually present until 20 to 50 years after exposure, there has been a recent explosion in the number of asbestos related cancer cases in the past several years.
What Causes Asbestos Lung Cancer?
Asbestos lung cancers are caused, not because of the composition of asbestos, but because of its shape. Asbestos fibers are long, thin fibers that are easily inhaled and tend to stick into other fibrous materials. Think of them like really thin needles. When they are inhaled, they often get caught in the tissue of your lungs.
They are not coughed out like other pollutants because of their small size and thin shape. Instead it is left up to the macrophage cells (white blood cells) to remove them. The asbestos fiber clusters are actually longer than the macrophage cells and when the cells try to engulf them, they pop and die. Since the asbestos is not removed, it can stay in the lungs or migrate to the mesothelium and cause damage to more cells.
Two current theories that are being considered could indicate the exact mechanism that causes the mesothelioma cancer. First, the death of the macrophage cells could send off a biological defense signal that causes cancerous cells to appear. The second is that the asbestos itself contributes to the production of free radicals in the body. These rouge particles damage cells in the immediate area and can cause cancer.
Where Does Asbestos Exposure Happen?
The majority of all mesothelioma cases happen in workers that have had extended exposure to asbestos through their jobs. Workers in the asbestos industry, boilermakers, ship welders and several other professions have shown increased risk for developing mesothelioma due to on-the-job asbestos exposure.
In addition to workers themselves, the immediate family of the worker could also have been exposed to asbestos. Asbestos fibers readily attach themselves to clothing and can be knocked off through everyday contact. So, if a workers children were in the habit of giving hugs as soon as the worker came home, they could have inhaled asbestos fibers. Also, the person doing the laundry was in danger of exposure.
What Can I Do If I’ve Been Diagnosed with Mesothelioma?
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, calling a lawyer that specializes in mesothelioma litigation should be one of your first moves. A firm like Bergman Draper Oslund can help you with everything from finding a top notch mesothelioma doctor to filing a claim for damages from those who are responsible for your situation. Because our law firm specializes in mesothelioma cases, you can count on us to give you the best representation possible. We’ve recovered over $700 million for our past clients.