Risk factors are the most important elements which are looked into when a disease is studied in detail. Risk factors are essential to know when a disease is being diagnosed in a person as they help locate a disease if the patient has been suffering from a set of symptoms and in studying the causes of these symptoms.
In short, risk factors increase your chances of diagnosing any disease following exposure or contact with any harmful agents. As with any other disease, risk factors are also taken into consideration when mesothelioma is diagnosed in a person.
It is a proven fact that the biggest risk factor for mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring fibrous mineral. It has been established that previous exposure which took place 20-50 years back could eventually cause mesothelioma. Even short term exposure to low doses of asbestos can lead to mesothelioma. Here we have discussed all the mesothelioma risk factors in detail which will give you an insight how this deadly cancer is contracted.
Asbestos exposure is the main risk factor for developing mesothelioma. Asbestos belongs to a family of fibrous minerals made of silicate. Its usage was very common in numerous products like insulation, floor tiles, door gaskets, soundproofing, roofing, patching compounds, fireproof gloves and ironing board covers and even brake pads due to its fire retardation properties. It was found that people working in asbestos industry developed mesothelioma by inhaling asbestos. Asbestos particles settle in the lining of the lungs, chest and abdominal cavity and cause cancer.
Mesothelioma can occur in any person who has been directly or indirectly exposed to asbestos regardless of trade, age, sex or race. Even people who inhale asbestos particles from the clothing or other items of affected people can get mesothelioma.
However, with recent studies, it has come to light, that it is not solely asbestos exposure which is a risk factor for mesothelioma. There are some other risk factors for mesothelioma too.
It was found that some of the cases of peritoneal and pleural mesothelioma were also caused by exposure to thorium dioxide (Thorotrast). Thorium dioxide was used in certain kinds of X-rays in the past. However, since it was known that it is a risk factor for mesothelioma, its use was banned.
Zeolite is naturally occurring asbestos like mineral. Zeolite is mostly found in the soil of Anatolia (the Asian region of Turkey) as it was determined after numerous mesothelioma cases were detected in Turkey.
Although, no direct link between tobacco and mesothelioma has been established, yet it has been found that a combination of smoking tobacco and inhaling asbestos can be a huge mesothelioma risk factor. It was found that people who worked in asbestos industry and also smoked were 50 to 90 times more likely to develop pleural mesothelioma or lung cancer. Also, according to researches, more asbestos workers are known to die of lung cancer rather than mesothelioma.
Simian Virus 40, also known as SV40 is considered as a mesothelioma risk factor. Some polio vaccine injections were found to be contaminated with SV40 during 1955 and 1963. It was found that around 10 to 30 million people were exposed to this virus.
Another thing which came to be known was that SV40 virus does not cause mesothelioma unless the patient is also exposed to asbestos. However, nothing has been proved yet and studies are still underway to determine the link between SV40 and mesothelioma.
In spite of all these risk factors, asbestos remains the main risk factor for mesothelioma. As the link between asbestos and mesothelioma was established, the use of asbestos has been banned in US since 1989. However, it is still used in some products and several cases of mesothelioma are still under study to determine the various risk factors.