Can Asbestos Cause Lung Cancer?
If you are an American adult, there’s a reasonable chance that you have had a friend or family member who developed lung cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic, lung cancer is the form of cancer that causes the greatest number of deaths in the United States. That is true for both men and women.
However, many people primarily associate lung cancer with smoking. Certainly, we’ve all seen the Surgeon General’s warning required on tobacco products and have been warned from many quarters about the dangers of smoking.
While it’s true that smokers are generally at greater risk for lung cancer, it can develop in other ways, as well. That brings us to the question, “Can asbestos cause lung cancer?”
Lung Cancer in the United States
The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that, in 2020, men will develop approximately 116,300 new cases of lung cancer, and women will develop approximately 112,520 new cases of lung cancer. The ACS further predicts that 72,500 men and 63,220 women will die from lung cancer in 2020. The majority of people who are diagnosed with lung cancer are 65 years of age and older.
Causes of Lung Cancer
Smoking is a big factor when it comes to lung cancer. The Mayo Clinic states that the majority of lung cancer is related to smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke, or both.
However, there are also cases of lung cancer in which a victim neither smoked nor endured significant exposure to secondhand smoke. Thus, it’s not always clear what causes cancer. However, medical science has developed risk factors of which people should be aware. They are discussed below.
Risk Factors Related to Lung Cancer
The Mayo Clinic identifies five risk factors. We’ll discuss each below.
- Family history – People who come from a family with a history of lung cancer are at greater risk. Obviously, we cannot control our genetics and family history. However, we can make sure that we don’t expose ourselves to other risk factors.
- Smoking – This one is obvious and controllable. If you’re a smoker, you’ve heard it a million times by now, but you should quit immediately. The lungs can actually improve when smokers stop smoking.
- Secondhand smoke exposure – If you’re a smoker and live with other people, take note that if you expose your loved ones to your secondhand smoke, you are increasing the chance that they will develop lung cancer. If you’re an adult exposed to secondhand smoke, take steps to protect yourself.
- Asbestos exposure – Those who work around carcinogens known to cause cancer, such as asbestos, can have an increased chance of developing lung cancer. This is especially true for those who also smoke.
- Radon gas exposure – Breathing radon gas can increase the possibility of developing lung cancer.
The Dangers of Asbestos
Many people are aware that asbestos exposure is dangerous and can lead to mesothelioma. But as we’ve discussed above, exposure to asbestos is also a risk factor for the development of lung cancer. In fact, more Americans die yearly from asbestos-related lung cancer than they do from asbestos-related mesothelioma.
Call with Questions
It’s not surprising that asbestos-related lung cancer usually affects older adults. The same is true of mesothelioma. Long-term exposure to asbestos fibers can take years, sometimes decades, before there is a diagnosis of these illnesses.
The people who are often most at risk are those who have jobs which have exposed them to asbestos for many years. Firemen, dock workers, construction workers, car mechanics, and navy personnel are just a few of the many professions at risk.
If you have been exposed to asbestos and have questions about your rights, we are here to answer them. We believe that society can only be protected if we hold those accountable who have violated the law and harmed others.