Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the thin lining of the lungs, abdomen, and heart. It is most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos, a material widely used in the construction industry until the 1980s when its use was finally banned. Although asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma, there are other potential causes that may contribute to the development of this cancer.
Asbestos is a mineral composed of tiny fibers that can be inhaled and can cause serious health problems. When these fibers are inhaled, they can get lodged in the lining of the lungs, leading to inflammation and scarring. Over time, this scarring can cause changes in the cells which can lead to cancer. In addition to asbestos, other materials that may be responsible for mesothelioma include erionite, a naturally occurring mineral; silica, a component of sand; and talcum powder, which has been linked to ovarian cancer.
In addition to exposures to asbestos and other materials, other factors may contribute to the development of mesothelioma. Smoking is known to increase the risk of mesothelioma, as is exposure to radiation. Genetics may also play a role in the development of the disease, as certain mutations in the BAP1 gene have been identified in some patients.
Since the link between asbestos and mesothelioma has been established, efforts have been made to reduce people’s exposure to this material. However, it is still present in many older buildings, and people are still being exposed to it. It is important to be aware of the potential risks and to take appropriate steps to protect yourself, such as wearing personal protective equipment when working with materials that may contain asbestos.
Although it is not possible to completely eliminate the risk of mesothelioma, it is important to be aware of the potential causes and take measures to minimize exposure. Recognizing the early signs and seeking medical attention promptly can also help improve the outcome for those affected by this deadly disease.