Mesothelioma is primarily linked to asbestos exposure, as it’s the most significant risk factor for developing this type of cancer. However, there are other potential causes or risk factors that may contribute to the development of mesothelioma, although they are less common. These include:
- Radiation: Prolonged exposure to high levels of radiation, such as thorium dioxide (Thorotrast) or high-dose radiation therapy to the chest or abdomen, has been associated with an increased risk of mesothelioma.
- Zeolites: Zeolites are minerals similar to asbestos in structure and have been linked to mesothelioma in some instances. However, exposure to zeolites is considerably rarer than asbestos exposure.
- SV40 Virus: Some research has suggested a potential link between Simian Virus 40 (SV40) and mesothelioma, although the evidence is not conclusive, and further studies are needed to establish a definite connection.
- Genetic factors: There might be a genetic predisposition or susceptibility in some individuals that could increase their risk of developing mesothelioma after exposure to certain carcinogens.
It’s essential to note that while these factors have been associated with mesothelioma, the overwhelming majority of cases are directly attributed to asbestos exposure. Asbestos fibers, when inhaled or ingested, can cause irritation, inflammation, and scarring in the mesothelium (the protective lining of the body’s internal organs), leading to the development of mesothelioma over time. Avoiding exposure to asbestos remains the most effective way to prevent mesothelioma.