Smoking tobacco products is a problem in Louisiana and throughout the country. However, can smoking actually lead to a mesothelioma diagnosis?
For recently diagnosed mesothelioma patients who smoke, it is important to understand the major role that asbestos exposure plays in the likelihood of developing mesothelioma.
If you have been told that your cancer is a result of smoking tobacco products, you should discuss your situation with an experienced mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible.
The key piece of information to remember is this: Prolonged and heavy asbestos exposure can lead to a mesothelioma diagnosis. Regardless of whether you have made other health-related choices, you may be able to file a claim for financial compensation. The mesothelioma lawyers at our firm can answer your questions.
Learning More About Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma
To better recognize how asbestos exposure can cause cancer — mesothelioma in particular — it is important to understand what asbestos is and why it can cause damage to the human body.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), asbestos is the name for “a group of minerals that occur naturally in the environment as bundles of fibers that can be separated into thin, durable threads.”
Asbestos was commonly used in building materials in the 20th century due to the fact that it is “resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals,” and because it does not conduct electricity.
During World War II, building and construction industries began using asbestos more widely to strengthen the foundations of homes and commercial structures. It was also used substantially for “insulation, roofing, fireproofing, and sound absorption.”
Due to environmental concerns about asbestos use, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned its use in “wallboard patching compounds and gas fireplaces” in the late 1970s.
However, asbestos was not banned entirely until 1989 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For this reason, numerous existing single-family homes, multi-family units and commercial structures built before the late 1980s may contain asbestos.
It is unlikely to cause harm to people if it is properly contained. Yet, once renovation and demolition begins on a structure, asbestos exposure can readily occur.
Can Tobacco Be Responsible for Mesothelioma?
According to a report on the Journal of Clinical Oncology and the Journal of Oncology Practice website, Cancer.net, smoking, by itself, does not raise a person’s risk of developing mesothelioma.
The report states that “the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure highly increases the risk of certain types of cancer in the lungs” even though people do not develop mesothelioma simply as a result of smoking tobacco products.
In other words, smoking and asbestos exposure are both risk factors for developing certain lung cancers. It follows that smokers who are exposed to asbestos may be at a greater risk for developing lung cancer in general.
The NCI echoes this point, indicating that a person’s risk of developing lung cancer is heightened when he or she is exposed to mesothelioma and smokes cigarettes — both risk factors alone for developing lung cancer. Still, “smoking combined with asbestos exposure does not appear to increase the risk of mesothelioma,” the NCI states.
The NCI identifies the following as factors that should be analyzed when it comes to a diagnosis of mesothelioma:
- Dose of asbestos
- Duration for which an individual was exposed to asbestos
- Type of asbestos fibers to which the individual was exposed (size, shape and chemical makeup)
- Source of exposure
- Individual risk factors.
Can Smoking Make Mesothelioma Worse?
A Science Daily article notes that smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products is not alone the cause of mesothelioma. However, the article states, smoking in combination with other risk factors — the primary one being asbestos exposure — may increase the risk of developing lung cancer in general.
According to the lead author of the article, “The chances of developing lung cancer associated with asbestos exposure” increases when combined with asbestosis and smoking. However, “quitting smoking significantly reduces the risk of developing lung cancer after long-term asbestos exposure.”
The article’s lead author also points out that researchers do not yet have a fully clear picture on the relationship among asbestos exposure, asbestosis and smoking when it comes to understanding the risks of certain types of lung cancer.
The influence of these risk factors simply are not fully understood at this point in time, the article’s lead author states.
A fact sheet from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) indicates that cigarette smoking can weaken the ability of the lungs to remove asbestos fibers, but it does not draw a causal relationship between smoking and mesothelioma.
While the words “smoking” and “mesothelioma” may appear together in research about certain types of lung cancer, it is important to remember that tobacco products alone do not cause mesothelioma.
When a person smokes after prolonged exposure to asbestos, studies suggest that the risks of developing lung cancer may increase, but the risk of exposure to mesothelioma does not necessarily increase or worsen.
Contact a Louisiana Mesothelioma Attorney Today
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. Do not let former employers lead you to believe that smoking caused you to develop mesothelioma when, in reality, exposure to asbestos at the workplace may have caused it.
Smoking, in and of itself, does not cause mesothelioma, research studies make clear. In a large number of cases, mesothelioma patients were exposed to asbestos on the job or under other circumstances for prolonged periods of time.
Mesothelioma, first and foremost, happens following substantial and lengthy asbestos exposure. If you or someone you love is suffering from mesothelioma, you should speak with a mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about filing a claim for financial compensation. Contact Neblett, Beard & Arsenault today to learn more about how we can assist with your case.