Understanding Your Risk of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a vicious type of cancer that most commonly attacks the membrane lining of the lungs, but it can also affect the heart and other areas of the body. Currently, there is no cure for mesothelioma. The people most at risk for developing mesothelioma are those who work in industries that use the building material asbestos. Eighty percent of all mesothelioma cases can be directly linked to asbestos exposure. Commonly affected professions include construction workers, plumbers, asbestos miners, military personnel, ship builders, and car mechanics.
Some people are exposed to asbestos through their environment when asbestos laced products breakdown in buildings. When asbestos is present in the environment and inhaled, the fine particles lodge in the lining of the lungs and settle there. Statistically, between two and 10 percent of people who are exposed to asbestos at some point develop mesothelioma in their lungs later in life.
A secondary risk factor for developing mesothelioma is smoking. Although smoking is not a direct causal factor, smokers who are exposed to asbestos have double the risk of mesothelioma and increased risk of asbestos lung cancer by as much as 50 to 90 percent. It is possible that smoking creates the conditions that make it easier for asbestos to become embedded in the lung lining, leading to inflammation. Other secondary less common causes of mesothelioma are polio vaccines, radiation from X-rays, and exposure to zeolites, simian virus 40 (SV 40) and erionite.
Asbestos was Commonplace
Between 1940 and 1978, asbestos was widely in use in many different forms, though after the toxic nature of asbestos was discovered, it was banned for general use. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), it is possible that as many as 11 million people have been exposed to asbestos. Even now in the United States people are still being exposed, putting them at risk of developing mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma takes many years to show up in the body – symptoms may first appear as many as 20 to 50 years after exposure occurs. There are four different types of mesothelioma, and pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lungs, is the most common type. Between 70 and 90 percent of all mesothelioma cases are pleural. Between 10 and 30 percent of cases are stomach or peritoneal mesothelioma. Cases affecting the heart, known as pericardial mesothelioma, comprise approximately one percent of all cases. Testicular mesothelioma is very rare and accounts for less than one percent of cases.
Because of the direct link between asbestos and mesothelioma, experts advise that there is no level of asbestos exposure that is considered safe and acceptable.
Delaware Mesothelioma Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Fight for Victims of Asbestos Exposure
If you or someone you love has developed mesothelioma after asbestos exposure in the workplace, we can help. The Delaware mesothelioma lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. have a proven track record helping workers suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Call us today at 302-656-5445 to schedule a free consultation about your case, or contact us online. From our offices in Wilmington and Georgetown, we serve clients throughout upstate and downstate Delaware.
Cancer in Delaware: The Industrial Impact
Recently, the News Journal published an article about Delaware’s high lung cancer rate: the state ranks 17th in the nation for the number of men suffering from the disease and 3rd for women.
The article does point out that Delaware’s cancer rates have improved: in the 1990s Delaware’s cancer death rate was second in the country, but it is now 14th.
What is to blame for the Delaware’s high cancer rate?
According to the article smoking is the reason – about 20 percent of Delawareans still smoke. What the article fails to address is that many other factors can contribute to a state cancer’s rate.
Other factors include the presence of heavy industry in the state. For years, deadly products such as asbestos and benzene were used throughout Delaware, often at companies that were among the largest employers in the state. Even for those who did not work directly with these products, they often had secondhand exposure from contact with friends and family and also through environmental exposure (in the air and water).
Delaware was host to two companies who used massive amounts of asbestos in the manufacture of various products: Haveg in Marshallton and Amoco in New Castle. From the 1930’s to 1980, these plants used tons of raw asbestos that circulated freely around the working areas and blew out of windows into the community.
Several years ago the News Journal published a feature on several generations of one family that was devastated by cancer caused by asbestos at the Haveg plant. Many Delawareans have filed cases against asbestos manufacturers or have filed workers compensation actions after being diagnosed with cancer from asbestos. Many of these individuals never smoked in their lives.
Utah is another case in point that smoking is not necessarily the only factor that contributes to a state’s cancer rate.
Utah has the highest percentage of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) of any state in the country. Mormon theology forbids the use of tobacco, hence Utah has the lowest percentage of tobacco users of any state.
Despite this, Utah has an incredibly high cancer, due in part to the number of individuals who work in heavy industry, particularly uranium mines.
Not only have former miners gotten sick and died, but those lived near the mines, including many children have developed diseases like leukemia and lung cancer and ultimately died. Thousands of abandoned uranium mines still remain throughout the state.
So, while smoking certainly contributes to a state’s cancer rate, it is by far not the only factor.
It is too convenient for industry to blame the victim, the dying cancer patient, and ignore their contribution. Improvements in public health require more than simply changing personal lifestyles – corporate lifestyles also need to change, placing human health needs before profits.