Healthy Lung Month and the Dangers of Asbestos
October was Healthy Lung Month, a time to increase awareness of just how important are lungs are and the role they play in our overall health. But even though the month has passed, we should always pay attention to the ways that our lungs can suffer harm. One of the worst culprits is asbestos, which affects the lungs in several different ways. These include mesothelioma, asbestosis and asbestos-related lung cancer.
This is a very rare form of cancer that has only one known cause – the ingestion or inhalation of asbestos fibers. The link between asbestos and mesothelioma is undeniable, and many people suffering from the disease have filed lawsuits against the asbestos manufacturers responsible for their suffering. Mesothelioma typically affects the “pleura,” or the lining that surrounds the lungs, abdomen and heart. Once asbestos fibers become lodged in the pleura, tissue becomes inflamed and severe problems occur. Unfortunately, this disease is almost always fatal.
Asbestosis is scarring of the lungs that creates an excessive amount of connective tissue. It received its name after a woman in London died unexpectedly after working in an asbestos factory in the early 20th century. An autopsy later revealed the woman suffered massive scarring in her lungs, which were also filled with fibrous tissue. One of the more insidious characteristics of this disease (which often makes people more susceptible to the flu and pneumonia) is that its symptoms can often mimic those of other, less serious conditions.
Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer
Asbestos can also increase a person’s risk of developing lung cancer. While smoking is the main cause, asbestos fibers can also become embedded in the lungs themselves. Like pleural mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer can develop due to inflammation caused by the inhalation of fibers.
Incredibly, there is still no asbestos ban in the United States. If you want to fight the use of this deadly material in our country, show your support of the Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2016, which has been introduced in the Senate.