Mesothelioma, the deadly disease that has overtaken the headlines over the last decade, is contracted through exposure to asbestos fibers into the air.
Unfortunately, do to the limited regulation for the use of asbestos in recent years, and arguably still today, millions of people exposed to the airborne fibers had a mesothelioma risk and as a result thousands have contracted the disease.
Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma Risk
You can safely say that almost everyone in the world has been exposed to asbestos in varying degrees. Due to the unique nature of the disease, even those who have suffered only minimal exposure are at risk of contracting the disease. Indeed, virtually everyone has some risk of mesothelioma.
While this kind of statement seems to exceed the limits of rationality, it is true that people who have been exposed to small amounts of asbestos for relatively short periods of time have contracted the disease.
This is a rarity rather than the majority of cases. In fact, the vast majority of mesothelioma cases involve individuals who were exposed to large amounts of asbestos fibers in the air over prolonged periods of time.
Mesothelioma Risk In Industry
The industries most at risk of exposure, and therefore have workers most at risk, are shipbuilding, asbestos mining and milling, textile manufacturing, insulation work in construction, and brake repair personnel. There are, however, other minor factors that may affect the likelihood of contracting the disease. These include radiation exposure and smoking.
There have been cases in which individuals were exposed to radiation have subsequently shown signs of mesothelioma and eventually contracted the disease. However, empirical studies to try to verify this correlation have not been able to prove that statement.
Another correlation to contracting the disease was taking the polio vaccine between 1955 and 1963. Some batches of the vaccine were contaminated with simian virus 40 has been detected in a number of rare cancers, including mesothelioma.
Those involved in construction or who lived in homes in the Cappadocia region of Turkey are also particularly at risk. In this region, the builders used Erionite, which is a type of zeolite silica stone.
Exposure to the fibrous strands of this building material have led to an annual mortality rate of about 1% of the population dying from mesothelioma every year in Turkey.
Mesothelioma Risk and Genetics
One of the most influential factors affecting mesothelioma contraction is genetics. Some people who have been exposed over long periods of time with large amounts of asbestos have not contracted the disease.
As a result, doctors have concluded that genetics plays an important role in determining whether or not patients contract the disease. Unfortunately, the genetic variability that provides some resistance to the disease also means that some people are particularly vulnerable to mesothelioma risk as well.