Why Asbestos Exposure Should be Talked About More

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While this September 26 might be a regular Thursday to most people, it’s a very important day for a strong community of cancer patients, survivors, and families. This year we’ll recognize the 16th anniversary of Mesothelioma Awareness Day; a day set to raise awareness, educate, and instill hope.

Mesothelioma traditionally impacts the senior community due to the latency period. One could have been exposed to asbestos in their early 20s and not show symptoms until their late 60s. This cancer, while being rare, impacts people in many different walks of life. From veterans to construction workers, asbestos is a material that was used frequently throughout the 20th century. 

Asbestos

Asbestos is a group of microscopic fibers found in natural deposits all over the world. There are six categories that each group of silicate minerals fall under. All types of asbestos share three key characteristics; being resistant to heat and electricity, absorbing sound, and being extremely malleable under pressure.

Historically speaking, chrysotile asbestos is the most popular form used in construction and consumer goods due to the amount it’s mined. It is estimated that nearly 90 to 95 percent of all asbestos in the United States is of this variety. Besides buildings and military ships here is a list of proven products that have been linked to asbestos throughout the years. Again, it’s important to take note of these products because it can take anywhere between 10-50 years to see symptoms of asbestos-related illness. Ingesting or inhaling asbestos has been proven to result in serious diseases. Here are three prominent cancers that can be linked to asbestos.

Cancers

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Mesothelioma: Without a doubt, mesothelioma is the most significant form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure. To date, asbestos is the only known cause in developing mesothelioma. The average age that mesothelioma is discovered in a patient is between the years of 75-79. Areas of the body where mesothelioma can develop are in the lining of the stomach, lungs, heart and 1 percent of cases in the testicles. Mesothelioma can be difficult to diagnose, if you or someone you know worked in a field with possible asbestos exposure it’s important to keep up to date with routine doctor visits and speak candidly with your doctor about your past work environments.

Read: 4 Sources of Hope and Strength: A Story of Surviving Cancer

Ovarian Cancer: This type of cancer ranks as the fifth most cancer deaths in the United States, and studies dating back to the 1970s have shown that asbestos, especially within talcum powder, is a contributing factor in developing cancer in the ovaries. Asbestos-contaminated talcum powder has been found in makeup and other cosmetics, baby powder, bath bombs and more. 

Pharyngeal Cancer: Otherwise known as throat cancer because it develops in the pharynx. While there’s not as much backing of this cancer relating to asbestos exposure as others, studies have tested smaller groups of patients with jobs in occupational fields such as first responders and construction workers. Although the data collected is not infallible, the National Institutes of Health has concluded that there is a link between this cancer and a patient ingesting or inhaling these carcinogenic fibers.

Mesothelioma Awareness Day

While asbestos has been proven time and time again to cause mesothelioma, it’s important to understand the entire body is at risk if it comes into contact with these toxic fibers. On September 26 show your support for the mesothelioma community by wearing blue or posting on social media to #curemeso. And while Mesothelioma Awareness Day is just one day a year, let’s think about how for many people, it’s every day of the year. To see how you can do your part to get asbestos banned in this country visit curemeso.org.

Every day we aspire to live in a world where this mineral is no longer making our community vulnerable to sickness. 

Read: Testicular Cancer: What You Need to Know

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