Thanks to mass awareness campaigns, most know that smoking increases the chances of developing lung cancer later in life. But did you know that smoking is linked to pleural mesothelioma, too?
Defining and identifying pleural mesothelioma
Researchers have discovered that smoking and asbestos exposure combined significantly increase your chances of developing pleural mesothelioma.
Pleural mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that develops in the lining of the chest wall and lungs. It accounts for 80 to 90 percent of all mesothelioma cases. This disease also has a low survival rate; only 6.7 percent of patients diagnosed between the ages of 65 and 74 live another five years.
Pleural mesothelioma’s symptoms are very similar to lung cancer and include shortness of breath and chest pain. Because of this, mesothelioma is sometimes misdiagnosed as lung cancer.
Asbestos exposure and smoking as combined risk factors
Exposure to asbestos is the leading risk factor for developing mesothelioma. Asbestos is fibrous insulating material that was widely used in several industries throughout the 20th century. Despite knowing the link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma, companies heavily used asbestos in their products for decades.
As a result, millions of hardworking Americans were exposed to copious amounts of asbestos at their workplace, putting them at risk for developing mesothelioma 10 to 50 years later. If these workers also smoked, their chances of developing pleural mesothelioma double.
Smoking alone does not put you at risk for developing mesothelioma; you must also have been exposed to asbestos at some point.
Asbestos in cigarette filters
From 1952 to 1956, a tobacco product was manufactured with asbestos as a main ingredient and distributed to the public: Kent Micronite filtered cigarettes. The filters in these cigarettes contained a type of asbestos known as crocidolite.
They were marketed as a safe alternative to other cigarette filters. Unfortunately, crocidolite is the most dangerous form of asbestos. With only two puffs of this cigarette, a smoker would have inhaled 170,000 asbestos fibers, significantly increasing their chance for developing mesothelioma decades later.
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