Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease shortens the average life expectancy by 13 years. The average person diagnosed with mesothelioma can expect to live just one year following the diagnosis. Each year, 2,500 to 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Asbestos is a mineral. Its fibers are resistant to heat and, therefore, were used in insulation products, as well as brakes, shingles and other building materials for many years. When asbestos is broken up and dust is created and inhaled, the fibers will settle inside a person’s body and, over time, can fatally affect internal organs.
But while the dangers of asbestos have been known for some time, the reasons why or how asbestos causes cancer have not. A team of Italian researchers suggest they have unlocked the mystery, or at least have come much closer to solving the riddle.
The researchers studied the tissue of 10 mesothelioma patients, all of whom were exposed to asbestos in the same shipyard. (Asbestos at one time was commonly used in ship building.) In an article published in the January issue of Scientific Reports, the researchers claim that iron contained in asbestos fibers is especially toxic.
Asbestos Exposure May Change Iron in Body
Too much iron in the body is dangerous. Studies have shown that large amounts of iron can harm a body’s production of enzymes designed to prevent cancer. This new Italian study concurs, but indicates that the type of iron contained in asbestos fibers – called ferritin – changes the longer the fibers remain in the body. Using advanced technology, the researchers examined the lung tissue of the ship workers and found another type of iron. This new type of iron may be a contributing factor in the development of mesothelioma.
Still no Cure; Asbestos Victims Deserve Compensation
The conclusions of this new study may eventually lead to a cure for mesothelioma. But today, there is none. Mesothelioma victims -those who were simply doing their jobs – deserve compensation from all those responsible for their deadly exposure to asbestos.