What is asbestos?
Asbestosis is mainly a lung disease which can be fatal. In addition, inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause a number of diseases either benign or malignant. There are more than a dozen different diseases associated to asbestos. Asbestos-related diseases are mainly constricted to the lung but may affect or spread to other organs include; lung cancer, asbestosis, Pleural Effusions, Pleural Plaques, Pleuritis and malignant mesothelioma. While lung cancer was identified with many causes, asbestosis and mesothelioma is uniquely signature with the toxic mineral of asbestos exposure. The combination of heavy smoking and highly asbestos exposure creates a risk of developing of lung cancer.
People inhaling airborne asbestos can cause asbestos-related disease if the tiny fibers of asbestos which are very small, straight and sharp are trapped in the lungs in big amounts and for a long period. Sadly these fibers if accumulated in big amounts cause inflammation and rigid formed substance in the lung tissues and here is where the danger exists. The long latent period between the onset of exposure and the clinical signs which is between 20 to 30 years makes it a highly deadly type cancer
Three major diseases are associated with asbestos;
• Asbestosis – Asbestos causes scarring of lung tissue this cause restriction ability to inhale, smokers are of a greater risk for lung cancer.
• Lung Cancer – Asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer usually in the cells lining the air passages, especially in combination with exposure to tobacco smoke.
Mesothelioma – Asbestos is the only known cause of this rare and lethal type of malignant cancer that affects the lining of the lung and chest wall.
Asbestos was widely used since the late 1800s. Factories and shipyards workers were exposed to high levels asbestos and were at risk of lung cancers such as mesothelioma. Due to the increase of the incidence of the disease between them and the release of asbestos fibers into the environment during use several governmental organizations banded using asbestos in the late 1970s.
How does smoking tobacco affect the risk of asbestos-associated cancers?
Researchers determined that the combination of tobacco smoking and asbestos exposure collectively is particularly hazardous and can increase the risk of asbestos-related diseases up to 90 % in some cases. However, there is also evidence that quitting smoking reduces the risk of lung cancer among asbestos-exposed workers but a definitive proof of such a relationship is simply not there.
What happens if I inhale Asbestos?
Because asbestos is a naturally occurring material it is everywhere it can be inhaled in our daily life. This exposed amount of asbestos is too small, in these cases we do not develop any asbestos related disease and this exposure has no health problems.
However, if naturally occurred asbestos is disturbed its fibers are released in the air, it can be inhaled into the lungs. Every effort should be made to minimize ongoing exposure.
If you suspect you have a significant exposure to asbestos let your doctor know, and there are some things you should do:
1. Stop on-going exposures.
2. Stop smoking and do not be exposed to tobacco smoke.
3. Get regular health checkups.
4. Get prompt medical attention for any respiratory illness to prevent infections that can attack weakened lungs.