A risk factor is anything that can increase a person’s chance of developing a particular disease. Asbestos exposure is the primary risk factor for mesothelioma. Exposure to other asbestos-like minerals and radiation has been linked to mesothelioma in rare cases, and other theoretical connections have been proposed but have yet to be studied and confirmed. However, these risk factors pale in comparison to the well-documented relationship between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma.
Smoking, while not directly tied to mesothelioma, can increase the likelihood that someone exposed to asbestos will contract the disease or develop other asbestos-related illnesses, such as asbestosis. Additionally, a family history of mesothelioma may indicate a genetic predisposition to the disease (similar to how a family history of breast cancer increases individual breast-cancer risk).
Other risk factors pale in comparison to the well-documented relationship between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma.
Commercial mining and manufacture of asbestos increased dramatically during World War II and was used in thousands of commercial and home products. Millions of civilians and military personnel have been exposed to asbestos since the 1940s. In some industries, including the construction, automotive and insulation trades the use of asbestos was more common than not, and safety precautions to protect against exposure were virtually nonexistent.
Nor was asbestos exposure limited to those who worked directly with the material. Citizens who lived near asbestos mining or manufacturing operations likely breathed airborne asbestos particles and are considered at risk for developing mesothelioma. Family members may have also been exposed to asbestos from the clothing of loved ones who worked directly with the material.
Production slowed dramatically in the 1970s as the health risks of asbestos became known, but thousands of products containing asbestos that were manufactured over the years remain potential sources of exposure today.
If you or your loved ones were exposed to asbestos at any time, you may be at risk. The Mesothelioma Options Help Center can help you determine whether you were exposed and if you may be experiencing symptoms associated with mesothelioma. The Center offers a doctor referral service, the opportunity to consult with a trained professional nurse, advice with your legal options, a network of support services and other important information to help you take control of your future. Find out more about the Mesothelioma Help Center and our services now.