It is a myth that smoking causes mesothelioma
Because mesothelioma is a form of cancer and smoking has been linked to many types of cancer, some people assume that smoking causes mesothelioma. This is a myth.
According to the American Cancer Society, smoking is the leading source of lung cancer, but mesothelioma is not lung cancer. In contrast, mesothelioma can occur in the lungs and many other areas of the body.
In case you missed it, check out our series on asbestos myths here.
What’s the difference between mesothelioma and lung cancer?
The National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute states that it can be hard for doctors to tell the difference between malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer. It can be present in the lungs, but is not a cancer of the lungs themselves.
Instead, it’s a cancer of the tissue that lines the lungs, stomach, heart and other organs. This tissue is called the mesothelium and when asbestos is inhaled (or swallowed) it can trigger the growth of cancerous tumors in this tissue that progress slowly over time and are typically fatal.
Here are some of the other differences between mesothelioma and lung cancer:
- More than 80% of mesothelioma cases are caused by asbestos
- Mesothelioma can be triggered by even brief exposure to asbestos
- Roughly 80% of lung cancer cases are caused by smoking
- The longer the smoking habit and the more intense, the greater the risk
- Mesothelioma takes 20 to 50 years to develop after asbestos exposure
- Lung cancer takes 10 to 30 years to develop after exposure to asbestos or cigarette smoke
Is smoking a risk factor for mesothelioma?
While smoking alone will not cause mesothelioma, in combination with asbestos exposure, it will increase the risk of developing mesothelioma according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Studies have shown that smokers who are exposed to asbestos are 50 to 84 times more likely to develop mesothelioma than are people exposed to asbestos that are non-smokers or those that quit smoking. In short, studies indicate that smoking is a risk factor for mesothelioma only if asbestos exposure also occurs.
Studies have shown that smokers who are exposed to asbestos are 50 to 84 times more likely to develop mesothelioma than are people exposed to asbestos that are non-smokers or those that quit smoking. In short, studies indicate that smoking is a risk factor for mesothelioma only if asbestos exposure also occurs.
Can you get mesothelioma from smoking alone?
No. While asbestos can cause both lung cancer and mesothelioma, smoking by itself is not a cause of mesothelioma. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that “cigarette smoking weakens the lungs and decreases their ability to remove asbestos fibers.” So non-smokers with healthy lungs that breathe in asbestos fibers may be able to naturally expel them. The CDC information on smoking and asbestos also says that cigarette smoke irritates air passages so they produce more mucus which blocks air flow and makes it more difficult for asbestos fibers to be discharged.
The CDC information on smoking and asbestos also says that cigarette smoke irritates air passages so they produce more mucus which blocks air flow and makes it more difficult for asbestos fibers to be discharged.
Will quitting smoking help mesothelioma victims?
Even for those who are already diagnosed with mesothelioma, stopping smoking has definite benefits. Because mesothelioma impairs lung functions – as does cigarette smoking – symptoms can be aggravated by continuing to smoke and may be relieved by stopping smoking. Putting down the cigarettes may also marginally improve life expectancy for mesothelioma patients and improve
Putting down the cigarettes may also marginally improve life expectancy for mesothelioma patients and improve efficacy of treatment measures. It’s never too late to quit smoking.
Why is it important to know that smoking does not cause mesothelioma?
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are pursuing compensation for the asbestos exposure that caused your illness, you should know that as part of the defense, those accused of exposing you could try and put the blame back on you for being a smoker.
The defense could also challenge your diagnosis and try and assert that you have lung cancer caused by smoking rather than mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure. When you choose the asbestos victim advocates at Bergman Draper Oslund to handle your case, we fight back hard against these myths to protect your rights.
The team at Bergman Draper Oslund are ready to help you – our practice focuses solely on mesothelioma cases and we’ve won more than $700 million for our clients. Contact us today for a free case evaluation to see how we can help you.