How Is Asbestos Exposure Linked to Cancer?

2 June 2015
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Asbestos is the term to describe a combination of fibrous materials that when inhaled can be extremely dangerous. Exposure to asbestos is linked to many adverse health conditions, including cancer. Here is what you should know about the link between cancer and asbestos.

Asbestos and the Link to Cancer

Asbestos exposure can cause a wide range of health dangers, though cancer is at the top of the list. The most common cancer that is linked to asbestos exposure is lung cancer, since this can occur when the asbestos fibers are inhaled into the lungs. The fibers can penetrate the protective lining of your lungs and chest wall, which then leads to lung cancer and other types of cancers. The two most common types of cancers associated with asbestos are lung cancer and mesothelioma. Other cancers that may be linked to asbestos exposure are ovarian and  laryngeal cancer.

Where Asbestos Is Found

While asbestos is not easily found nowadays, older homes and buildings do still have a risk of having asbestos in the walls, tile flooring, drywall, plumbing, or roofing materials. It was originally used because it is an excellent fire retardant; however, the dangers have caused it to become extinct. The best thing to do is have your home inspected if it is an older home and you believe there is a risk of asbestos.

How to Handle Asbestos

There are asbestos companies that will remove it from your home if you need to perform a remodel. Asbestos isn't usually harmful unless the material is disturbed and the fibers get into the air. For example, if you have asbestos roofing shingles, it is only dangerous when you do repairs on the roof and need to pull apart the shingles. If you need to do any work on a home with asbestos in the building materials, it is best to have a contractor experienced with handling asbestos to do it for you. They will safely remove the materials from your home without causing airborne fibers that you could accidentally inhale.

Some People Are at Greater Risk of Exposure

You should also know that some people will be more at risk of asbestos exposure, particularly those in certain occupations. You may not have asbestos in your home, but if you work in these fields, you need to be extra careful:

  • Railroads and mines
  • Automotive industry
  • Shipyards
  • Construction and demolition
  • Firefighters
  • Gas mask manufacturers
  • Insulation manufacturers

If you believe you have been in contact with asbestos, see your doctor right away. They will perform a thorough exam and recommend treatment options if you inhaled the fibers. If you find an asbestos problem in your home, talk to a professional like Advanced Remediation Solutions Inc.