Does asbestos cause cancer?
Image courtesy of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.
Does asbestos cause cancer?
Asbestos is known all over the world for its fire-proof properties. It is often used to line roofing and walls and even incorporated in the coverings of stoves, etc. to ensure that no over-heating takes place. Despite its abundant man-made uses, it is in fact a naturally occurring compound made solely of silicon and oxygen atoms. Asbestos exists as fibers in the nature, which can be easily separated from their bundles. Asbestos was first mined around 4000 years ago and has been in use ever since. Its peak era, however, was that of the 19th century when every builder and businessman was rushing to invest in it.
Role of asbestos in Lung diseases:
Asbestos is generally linked to health hazards, which is precisely why it was banned in 1989. It is therefore not used as extensively as it was once and has lead to its confinement in traditional homes. Major effect of these natural fibers is seen on the lung tissue and leads to widespread pathology in this tender organ.
Asbestos fibers are very light and thin and hence can be easily inhaled by people. This results in harmful effects on the lungs, causing damage to the parenchymal tissue and leading to scar formation. It also possibly leads to notorious chronic ailments, like cancer, and hence should be treated with caution.
How asbestos causes cancer?
Though still under investigation, many scientists believe that asbestos does cause cancer. The reason for this is the fact that the inhaled fibers entering the respiratory passages constantly irritate the lung tissue. This constant irritation leads to chronic inflammation. In this process, cells divide continuously in an attempt to replace their injured and dying predecessors. As the source of injury continues, cell divisions also flourish, resulting eventually in the malignant transformation. This is how asbestos causes cancer. In addition, evidence has also been obtained in the favor of the throat and color cancers, although their incidence is believed to be quite rare.
Who are most prone?
People who are at the highest risk of developing asbestos-related health hazards include the following:
- Miners who work to dig out asbestos. They are continually inhaling small pieces of asbestos and will end up with severe lung damage eventually.
- Workers involved in transportation of asbestos from its mining site to the consumer site. These include poor railway workers and shipyard workers, who is ever exposed to thin fibers drifting invisibly in the air.
3. Employees at insulation companies that have to deal with materials containing asbestos each day.
In short: Can asbestos cause cancer? Most likely yes. How does asbestos cause cancer? Don’t be lazy and read the whole post for how asbestos causes cancer, I can’t answer this in one line.