It has long been known that asbestos exposure causes negative health consequences. The first fatality attributed to asbestos exposure was noted in 1906! That’s over a century ago yet widespread use of the product continued for nearly 80 more years. Mesothelioma was first diagnosed in the 1930s – prior to that it didn’t have its own name. In the 1940s, mesothelioma was first linked to asbestos exposure yet workers were intentionally exposed for decades more despite that many companies knew they were risking lives.
When you hear “asbestos” the primary health impact that comes to mind is mesothelioma. But in fact there are a number of ways the toxic substance can damage your health. Here are six other unfortunate effects of asbestos exposure you may not be aware of:
#1 Immune System Deficiencies – Asbestos exposure has been linked to autoimmune disorders including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus and scleroderma. Autoimmune disorders are characterized by the body’s immune system attacking healthy tissue as if it were illness. With RA, joints of the body are the target of immune system attacks. With lupus, it can be systemic (the whole body) or limited to one area of the body. Scleroderma is an attack on the skin cells that results in hardening of the skin caused by scar-like build up.
#2 Pleural Abnormalities – Inhaling asbestos fibers can lead to health issues that are non-cancerous as well as those that are cancer-related. Asbestos can cause pleural plaques (scar tissue on the pleura of the lungs), pleural effusion (build up of fluid between the layers of the pleura), pleural fibrosis (thickening of the pleura) or folded lung syndrome (also called round atelectasis) where part of the lung is trapped between pleural scars and collapses.
#3 Ovarian and Other Cancers – There are a host of other cancers that have been linked to asbestos exposure. For women exposed to asbestos on the job, studies have shown an increased risk of ovarian and uterine cancers. Some studies have also shown an increased incidence of stomach cancer, colon cancer, gastrointestinal cancer and colorectal cancer.
#4 Lung Cancer – You may have thought that lung cancer and mesothelioma were the same illness, but they are not. Lung cancer develops in the lungs themselves while mesothelioma forms in the lining of the lungs. And smoking can put you at greater risk for lung cancer if you are also exposed to asbestos whereas there is not an increased risk for mesothelioma with smoking.
#5 Asbestosis – As a result of breathing in asbestos fibers, lung tissue can become scarred. The scarring can make it difficult to breathe and for your blood to get fully oxygenated. This disease can have no symptoms or severe ones. If oxygen infusions and other therapies don’t help, a lung transplant may be needed.
#6 Cancer of the Larynx or Voice Box – Recent studies have shown that people exposed to asbestos are 40% more likely to develop laryngeal cancer (larynx or voice box cancer). But for those in higher exposure jobs including miners, construction and textiles, the risk can be increased two to three fold.
Let Bergman Draper Oslund Help You
The bottom line is that asbestos is a dangerous substance that has made millions of hard working people seriously ill. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma – or if you have a loved one that has received a diagnosis – Bergman Draper Oslund can help you. We have fought for and won more than $700 million for our clients made ill by asbestos. Let us help you. Call now for a free consultation