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Mesothelioma Risk Factors

While many researchers are working hard to determine the best treatment for mesothelioma, others are striving to prevent future cases from ever forming. This is no easy undertaking, as an illness cannot be prevented until its causes are fully understood. Unfortunately, like all forms of cancer, mesothelioma seems to be affected by a very complex web of factors.

Despite the difficulty of their mission, mesothelioma researchers have been able to learn a great deal about the disease. Some risk factors have been clearly defined, while many others are still being considered. The most commonly discussed mesothelioma risk factors are described below.

Asbestos and Mesothelioma

The primary risk factor for developing mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. In fact, many mesothelioma patients have been exposed to the mineral at some time in their lives. The most common ways this exposure happens are:

  • Working with asbestos. People who have worked in asbestos mines or processing plants, installed asbestos insulation, worked in offices or on ships with asbestos insulation, or otherwise handled the material are at a greatly increased risk for mesothelioma.
  • Living around asbestos. An asbestos mine is a hazard to the entire community. Other people have been exposed by living in homes or attending schools in which asbestos insulation was used.
  • Living with an asbestos worker. People who worked with asbestos would often come home covered in asbestos dust, not knowing how dangerous this was to their families.

While asbestos is clearly linked to mesothelioma, it is not a simple relationship. Some people work with asbestos for years and never become sick, while others have been diagnosed with mesothelioma after a very short exposure period. It seems clear that other variables are at work, although researchers are still trying to determine what they are.

Other Mesothelioma Risk Factors

Other risk factors currently being researched include:

Zeolite. This is a naturally occurring mineral very similar to asbestos. It has been used in a variety of capacities for centuries, from conducting scientific experiments to making laundry detergent. Sadly, it may also be linked to mesothelioma and other diseases.

Radiation. We know that people who have been exposed to high levels of radiation are at an increased risk for cancer. Researchers now think that this may include mesothelioma. A common culprit named by these researchers is thorium dioxide, which was used in x-rays through the 1950’s.

SV-40. Early polio vaccines were derived from primate cells, which may have lead to unintended harm. Between 1955 and 1963, many people who received polio vaccines were exposed to SV-40, or Simian Virus 40. Some doctors believe that SV-40 may cause certain types of cancer, including mesothelioma. This claim has caused a good deal of controversy, however.

Mesothelioma Support

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you are not to blame. The dangers of asbestos exposure were kept secret for decades, and any other risk factors are still being debated. It is ultimately unimportant why your family has been affected by this illness; what matters is that you receive the mesothelioma treatment, support, and education you need.

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