ASBESTOS AND CANCER: MESOTHELIOMA (A RARE LUNG CANCER)

Asbestos is not something you hear as often these days. It was more prevalent years ago. In my time, I recall buildings being abandoned because they were insulated with asbestos and deemed unsafe to live and/or work in. Prior to that, there were asbestos mines where mine workers were definitely at risk.
 
The building industry is the main source of products containing asbestos, but not the only one. The list of products containing asbestos is quite comprehensive, but here are a few categories – 
  • Adhesives, Cements, Mortar, Sealers
  • Asbestos Paper, Rollboard, Millboard
  • Automotive Materials, Friction
  • Electrical, Mechanical Products
  • Flooring, Tiles
  • Home Use Products – (i.e. cigarette filters, crock pots, potting mixtures, hair dryers)
  • Panels, Wallboard, Wallcoverings.
  • For more details, go to http://www.mesothelioma.com/asbestos-exposure/products/
Why is it important to know about asbestos? Why does it cause lung cancer?
 
The Mesothelioma.com site shares this:
 
“Asbestos fibers that are inhaled through the mouth and nose may eventually become embedded in the lining of the lungs, causing harmful inflammation of the pleura and resulting in mesothelioma or asbestosis (scar tissue formation in the lungs). It has also been found that swallowingasbestos fibers could contribute to a form of the malignancy originating in the abdomen known as peritoneal mesothelioma.”
 
This is not an issue to ignore even though asbestos was used more widely in past years. I recall reading a novel about an asbestos mine in England around the 1800’s. The workers were getting ill. The wife understood that the illness was coming from the asbestos, but the mine owner ignored her advice. It would have meant shutting down the mine and causing financial hardship. In the end – poetic justice – the mine owner died of lung cancer caused by the asbestos. Interesting!
 
Apart from this story, I wanted to share this information because mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is not often heard about or understood. It ‘occurs in the thin layer of cells lining the body’s internal organs, known as the mesothelium’. We all know about breast cancer and prostate cancer – they are both well marketed and many fundraising events are held to raise money for research and/or direct benefits to patients. However, there are many cancers that don’t receive the attention they deserve and these patients often feel left out to deal with their cancer flying under the radar screen.
 
What are the symptoms?
 
Here are some:
  • Anemia – low red blood cell count
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Chest pain
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
  • Fluid effusion (fluid buildup in either the pleura or pericardium)
  • Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
  • Nausea (from increasing abdominal pressure)
Before you think that you will never get this cancer because you’re pretty sure you have no exposure to asbestos, I suggest you go back to the above information about products that contain asbestos and find out more. It is still in many products that we use every day. And, if you are someone that works in the building industry, you are very vulnerable to this cancer.
 
Where to get information:
 
This being Lung Cancer Awareness Month, I was approached by the Mesothelioma Cancer Center at Asbestos.com. They are educating people through several blog posts, listed below. It’s always best to be informed in order to take preventive steps. Knowledge is power – and in this case, could save you from this rare cancer.
Again, it comes to mind that there are many factors that contribute to cancer. It’s not just our lifestyle, but the environment in which we live. We need to be aware of what is being done in order to take positive steps to ensure a healthy future for our children and our planet. We can do this one by one. If we all did at least one small thing to clean up the planet, our world would be a much friendlier place to live.
 
Are there alternatives to asbestos?
 
Yes, there are several. If you are renovating or building a new home, being aware of other options is important. Again, here are some categories to research.
 
1. Polyurethane Foams
2. Flour Fillers
3. Cellulose Fiber
4. Thermoset Plastic Flour
5. Amorphous Silica Fabrics
 
If you’ve ever experienced a flood, then you might want to make sure when rebuilding that any asbestos that was in an older building is eliminated and use new alternatives for the new. There are many areas of the country where floods have wrecked havoc on communities. Mold is not the only issue – asbestos could be a huge other.
 
If you feel that asbestos might be an issue for you, I hope I’ve raised a flag. I hope you will do your research. I don’t propose to know all of the ins and outs, but I do know that life can creep up on you unexpectedly if you aren’t aware. For myself, I got caught in a flooding issue with mold. My whole immune system got wiped out from toxic mold poisoning. Did I suspect that? NO. But it sure impacted my life for at least two years while I rebuilt my immune system. Thank heavens it wasn’t an asbestos issue. However, I know people who in the renovating process have ripped up floors and walls unaware that asbestos was hiding in there. No masks or protection worn. Ignorance is not bliss.
 
Like always, do your research, be informed, be empowered, and be well.
 
Hugs,
Barbara 

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