Mesothelioma is a disease that is unheard of until people began using asbestos for commercial and industrial purposes. Decades of studies established a direct correlation between the disease and asbestos exposure. However, we have heard news of people not contacting Mesothelioma even with significant exposure, yet there are those who have the disease even without exposure to the chemical.
Are there any other causes of Mesothelioma other than asbestos exposure? Researchers found several factors that increase a person’s risk of having the disease. Similar to other cancers, Mesothelioma has several risk factors which may or may not be avoidable. Nonetheless, note that having a risk factor does not mean you will automatically have Mesothelioma.
Cancer occurs when the body sustains damage to the DNA. For the uninitiated, think of DNA as something that tells how our cells should behave. Any irreversible damage due to an external stimulant will render the cells to grow out of control, which results in cancer. In the case of Mesothelioma, most victims inhaled asbestos fibers and made its way to the pleura. These result in scarring and inflammation that damage the DNAs that lead to uncontrolled growth. Anything that harms the DNA sequence causes cancer.
Asbestos aside, other factors such as your genetic makeup also plays a huge factor in having Mesothelioma. Researchers have noted that high-risk people exhibited changes in the BAP1, the gene which makes cell growth normal. Older people are also known to have Mesothelioma. In fact, 2 out of 3 people having the disease are between 65 years and above. The condition is also more common with males given the jobs that expose them to asbestos.
Certain minerals such as zeolites are also known to raise the risk of having Mesothelioma. Found in the rocks and soils in Turkey, these minerals are chemically similar to asbestos. In fact, areas with a high content of these minerals are associated with increased Mesothelioma rates. Exposure does not have to be long-term. If the inhalation or ingestion of these chemicals caused irreversible damage to the DNA, you are more likely to have Mesothelioma.
Radiotherapy or the use of radiation to treat other types of cancers is another risk factor for getting the disease. Several studies link Mesothelioma with high doses of radiation to the chest or abdomen. Injections of thorium dioxide also increase your risk. This radioactive chemical was used to obtain x-rays until the 1950’s. That said, it is true that patients undergoing radiation treatment are considered high risk. Diagnosis of Mesothelioma is still extremely rare in their case.
Researchers also suggest that infection with the simian virus (S40) may also increase the risk. It exposes about 30 million people in the United States as some polio vaccines were infected with the virus from 1955 to 1963. Some studies established a direct relationship between the S40 and cancer in general by experimenting on mouse cells. Adding asbestos to the study increases the risk of Mesothelioma. Others found S40 virus in the DNA from some biopsies done on human tissues. Nonetheless, most studies are still inconclusive as regards to the effect of S40 to the risk of having Mesothelioma.
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