Given that every cancer is a little different, it seems a little counterproductive to try and explain how exactly asbestos causes cancer. However, since the connection between asbestos and cancer is certain, we feel it’s important for Canadians to understand what we do know about the connection.
Lung Cancer refers to tumours, or uncontrolled growths, within the lungs. While many cancers are caused by bad luck, lung cancer is typically attributable to behaviours and external carcinogens. Smoking cigarettes has the greatest effect on whether or not a person develops lung cancer in their lifespan, but exposure to radon gas, asbestos, second-hand smoke, or other forms of air pollution are also known factors. Canadians who are exposed to asbestos and smoke have a 45-fold increased risk of developing cancer compared to the general population or up to 90% are affected.
Why Does Asbestos Cause Cancer?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, similar to garnet. One of the defining traits of this mineral is its long, fibrous texture. Due to its amazing fire-proofing properties, affordability, and chemical inertness, asbestos fibers were added to just about everything — from firefighter suits to popcorn ceilings. But as these products degraded, the microscopic asbestos fibers were pulled free by circulating air. When inhaled, these fibers become lodged inside of the lungs causing scarring, lung damage, and, eventually, cancer.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is almost unique to people who have been exposed to asbestos, and over 80% of all patients who develop mesothelioma have known asbestos exposure. This can mean working in the mines, producing materials and goods that contain asbestos, living in a building with uncontained asbestos, or even just being a family member to someone who is exposed to high levels of the mineral. The mesothelium is a thin lining that covers internal organs, but in typical cases, mesothelioma specifically affects the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. In general, people begin to see symptoms around 40 years after they’re first exposed to asbestos. Death usually follows within 5 years.
Cancer is never a fun thing to discuss, and in many ways, that makes talking about asbestos difficult as well. At Amity Environmental, we want to help ensure that, in 40 years, there are no more Canadians being diagnosed with asbestos related lung cancer or mesothelioma. If you’re worried that your home may have asbestos, contact our experts today at 1-403-667-8264. We’re here to help you keep your family safe.