Causes of Mesothelioma - An Insight Into the Likely Causes of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a very aggressive and rare cancer that is difficult to diagnose and that is also highly resistant to treatment. Around 2000-3000 new cases of malignant mesothelioma are seen every year in the US, and these figures are expected to rise over the next decade.

What causes mesothelioma?

There is extensive and undeniable medical evidence that mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. There is no other known cause.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that was widely used in industrial, commercial and domestic products throughout the 20th century. It was particularly popular because of its durability, fire resistant and insulating properties. It was used in several thousand different manufactured asbestos products. These included construction materials, household appliances and brake linings, the use was so widespread that millions of Americans were unknowingly exposed to the toxic material, which now leads to the development of mesothelioma amongst million of Americans.

Most of the companies that manufactured these asbestos contaminated products were aware of the danger of asbestos, but still preferred to put millions at risk to make huge profits.

However today, as more cases are being diagnosed and they are seeking for legal compensation, these companies are being ordered to pay compensations to patients affected by asbestos.

How does asbestos cause mesothelioma?

Internal organs and body cavities are lined by a thin tissue called mesothelium. This lining lines the lungs {pleura} and it also lines the heart sac {pericardium} and abdominal cavity {peritoneum}.

This mesothelial tissue offers protection and support for the internal organs and body cavities. It also provides lubrication to help organ function properly and be in good health.

Mesothelioma affects this lining of various organs and body cavities, mostly the pleura, pericardium, and peritoneum. Occasionally and rarely, the cancer may affect the lining of the testicles, called the tunica vaginalis.

Although the actual mechanism by which asbestos causes cancer is not known, there are about four different theories to explain this:

1-Asbestos causes irritation and inflammation of mesothelial cells, which results in irreversible scarring, cellular damage, and eventually cancer

2- Asbestos fibers enter cells and disrupt the function of cellular structures that are essential for normal cell division, causing cellular changes that lead to cancer.

3-Asbestos causes the production of free radicals. These molecules damage DNA, and cause cells to mutate and become cancerous.

4-The presence of asbestos causes cells to produce oncoproteins. These molecules cause mesothelial cells to ignore normal cellular division restraints, and this can lead to the development of cancer.

The common underlying pathophysiology in each of these theories is that asbestos cause's cellular damage mainly by causing the cells of the mesothelium to divide and multiply without restraint causing the formation of tumors. This uncontrolled division causes impairment of the normal function of the body organs and tissues.

Does Mesothelioma have other causes? Although research and medical evidence has not been able to directly prove any other cause of mesothelioma other than asbestos exposure, it is known however that smoking can aggravate a less serious asbestos related disease, such as asbestosis, and prompt formation of tumors and the onset of the cancer.

Also asbestos exposure and smoking have a synergistic effect that increases the risk of developing lung cancer by as much as 84 times or more. Thus people that have been exposed to asbestos for a prolonged period of time are advised to not to smoke.

Bello Kamorudeen


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