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Smoking and Mesothelioma Risks

  • Synopsis: Published: 2009-10-08 (Rev. 2013-06-11) - Relationship between smoking and asbestos exposure which is the only known cause of mesothelioma. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Mesolink.org.
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"Smoking weakens the lungs, making them more susceptible to damage from asbestos and other toxins."

Tobacco smoking, while it does not directly lead to mesothelioma, does make a person more susceptible to it if that person has also been exposed to asbestos. In order to understand this susceptibility, it's important to also understand asbestos and the nature of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma.

Smoking cigarettes is one of the most dangerous habits that people can have, and smoking can lead to a number of detrimental conditions including emphysema, COPD, lung cancer and heart disease. One deadly cancer that smoking does not cause, however, is mesothelioma.

Nevertheless, there is a complicated relationship between smoking and asbestos exposure, which is the only known cause of mesothelioma. Tobacco smoking, while it does not directly lead to mesothelioma, does make a person more susceptible to it if that person has also been exposed to asbestos. In order to understand this susceptibility, it's important to also understand asbestos, the risks of asbestos exposure, and the nature of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma.

Asbestos, an organic mineral, is fibrous in nature. It is durable, lightweight, strong and fireproof, and able to resist heat and other biological processes. Asbestos can be woven into fabric, or added to a number of industrial building materials, such as concrete. Perhaps its most well-known applications are as insulation or acoustical ceiling tiles, but throughout history it has been used for cloth, blankets, flooring, wiring, pipes, boilers, automotive parts and thousands of other products for commercial and residential use.

Exposure to asbestos or asbestos-containing products, however, especially when being mined, processed, installed or demolished, can lead to a number of fatal diseases, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is not the same as lung cancer, although it too is a cancer. It targets a membrane known as the mesothelium, which surrounds and protects the internal organs. The most common form of mesothelioma is pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lungs.

That's where smoking comes into play. Smoking weakens the lungs, making them more susceptible to damage from asbestos and other toxins. Although asbestos exposure can cause lung cancer, as can smoking, when a smoker is exposed to asbestos-containing materials, a synergistic effect is created which multiplies the risk of contracting the cancer. Some physicians liken the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure to that of alcohol and prescription drugs: each dangerous on their own, but even more deadly in combination with one another.

If you have been exposed to asbestos in the workplace, you may feel that having also been a smoker decreases your chances to successfully win a personal injury lawsuit against your former employer or the manufacturer of the asbestos-containing product or material. This is not necessarily so, however. Chances are good that your doctor will attribute your mesothelioma to both your occupational asbestos exposure and your tobacco habit.

The sooner mesothelioma is diagnosed, the better the prognosis and likelihood of effective treatment. Sadly, however, mesothelioma is usually not discovered until it has reached advanced stages, since it has an extremely long latency period. Further aggravating diagnosis is the great similarity of mesothelioma symptoms to the symptoms of more commonplace medical issues, such as emphysema, bronchitis and even influenza.

Although mesothelioma is currently considered incurable, it can be treated and managed. The first course of action is to stop smoking, if you haven't already done so. Consult with your health-care practitioner about the advantages of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of these therapies. The effectiveness of any one remedy will depend on the stage and seriousness of your mesothelioma cancer, but many patients have been able to extend their lifespan or alleviate the symptoms of this disease through the right treatment approach.






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