Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that adversely encroaches the thin membrane that forms a protective layer on the body’s organs. Although this cancer rarely occurs, it’s very aggressive, deadly, and can cause deterioration of the thin protective membrane, which surrounds important organs, including the heart, stomach, and lungs.
Findings from a 2017 study link exposure to asbestos to mesothelioma. The research further reveals that exposure to asbestos at the workplace, among other asbestos environmental exposures, are predisposing factors to mesothelioma and other diseases related to asbestos.
Specific jobs expose people to inhale asbestos fibers that stay in the lungs. Over the years, the asbestos in the lungs induces malignant cancerous cells.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a composition of six naturally occurring minerals constituting thin and tiny fibers. It is an effective fire, chemicals, and heat repellant. These qualities inspired its usage as a fire retardant in products and construction structures, like buildings, for several decades.
During renovations, demolition, and construction, shaking asbestos can fill the air with its tinny fibers. During its usage in factories in manufacturing select products and in its mining processes, asbestos can also send its fine fiber floating in the air.
Inhaling asbestos in the air can, over time, induce the growth of malignant cells around the tissues of the body’s internal organs.
The History Of Asbestos And Illness
The links between the usage of asbestos and its role in causing illness began emerging in the 1930s, prompting research into its impacts on health. As more research findings actively identified asbestos as a potential illness-inducing agent, its usage began declining, with increased significant reports reported during the onset of the 1970s.
However, in today’s time, asbestos is still an element in some products, homes, and older buildings.
Is Asbestos Banned?
The question “when was asbestos banned” can be best answered by first examining a brief history of asbestos from a legal perspective.
After the discovery of increasing illnesses arising from the use of asbestos, the U.S. government created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to curb asbestos exposures and risks to other lethal contaminants.
EPA’s Clean Air Act of 1973 banned asbestos products from their use for insulation and fireproofing. In 1989, EPA sought to impose a total ban to deter the manufacture, importing, and its use in product processing by issuing Asbestos Ban and Phase-Out Rule.
Sadly, the war to completely ban asbestos still continues. In 2002, the United States banned mining of asbestos, although importation for some uses is still open.
How Asbestos Can Lead To Mesothelioma
Research is yet to show the articulate influence of mesothelioma on genetic variations and their systemic contribution to the development and growth of tumors.
However, the following concepts give a proposition of the process of tumor growth from asbestos fibers:
1. Interference With The Immune System
The body’s health requires a normal division of cells, including those found on the mesothelial lining of the internal organs of the body. When an individual inhales the needle-like and tinny asbestos fiber from the air, they can overwhelm the white blood cells that are responsible for immunity from clearing out the fibers.
The shape of the fibers makes their absorption by the mesothelial lining easier, which interferes with the normal cellular division. Abnormal cell division prompts the growth of malignant cells and is the genesis for the growth of cancerous tumors.
2. Cellular Damage
Inhaling asbestos fibers interferes with the normal function of mesothelial cells by irritating them and causing them to bulge.
Damaged cells can result in the growth of malignant cells that are the basis of tumor development.
3. DNA Damage And Disruption of Cellular Reproduction
The body’s DNA and production of cells require an environment with healthy molecules. Since Asbestos fibers are absorbable by the mesothelial lining, they can prompt the production of molecules out of the body’s normal molecule production framework.
The safety of such molecules is not guaranteed, neither it’s quarantined. It can, therefore, cause damage to the DNA structure of the body and disrupt the production of healthy cells.
Such damage is detrimental to the cells of the body and can lead to the growth of tumors.
4. Mutation Of Regular Cells
In some instances, asbestos fibers can trigger the production of a class of proteins with the ability to impersonate the structure of the regular mesothelial cells, resulting in tumorous cells. The seemingly identical structure of the mesothelial cells might even encroach other normal cells, damage them, and increase the room for the growth of cancerous cells.
The symptoms of mesothelioma might take time to show up and shouldn’t be confused with other illnesses. That’s why it’s healthy to take precautions against asbestos fiber to minimize the chances of complications later in the years.
The good news is, even with a mesothelioma condition, there are newly approved mesothelioma treatments available to address the condition.