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Causes of Mesothelioma

Delve into the intricate causes of mesothelioma, unraveling the multifaceted factors and origins behind this challenging form of cancer.

  • 22 Nov 2023
  • 3 min read

Mesothelioma is a rare but aggressive and deadly cancer that primarily affects the mesothelial cells lining most of our internal organs, including the chest, abdomen, and heart.

This disease is linked closely with overexposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that came into widespread use across industries, given its heat-resistant and insulating properties.

This article looks into the origins and causes of mesothelioma. It explores the pivotal role played by asbestos exposure, along with other conceivable risk elements that contribute to the emergence of this lethal form of cancer.


How is Mesothelioma caused?

  1. Asbestos Exposure

Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure; it is the primary cause.

Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals used extensively in construction, shipbuilding, automotive manufacturing, and other industries for their heat and corrosion-resistant properties. Inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibres over time can lead to their accumulation in the body, causing cellular damage and, eventually, cancer.

Individuals who have worked with or lived with asbestos-exposed workers are at high risk of mesothelioma.

  1. Occupational Exposure

Construction, shipbuilding, mining, manufacturing, and insulation installation workers are at a higher risk of asbestos exposure.

Given their work environments, asbestos miners, plumbers, electricians, and firefighters may also be at an elevated risk.

  1. Environmental Exposure

Some individuals may get exposed to asbestos through environmental factors, such as living near asbestos mines or asbestos-contaminated areas.

Natural disasters or construction activities can release asbestos fibres into the air, increasing the risk for nearby residents.

  1. Secondhand Exposure

Relatives of individuals who have worked with asbestos are susceptible to secondary exposure. Asbestos fibres can hitch a ride on work attire and find their way into the home, contaminating the household. This indirect exposure places family members at risk of asbestos-related health issues, though they may not have worked directly with the substance.

  1. Smoking

Smoking is a significant risk factor for various types of cancer, including lung cancer. When combined with asbestos exposure, the risk of developing mesothelioma increases significantly. Smoking weakens the lungs’ ability to clear asbestos fibres, allowing them to accumulate and cause damage.

  1. Genetic Factors

Some genetic mutations and factors may make specific individuals more susceptible to developing mesothelioma from asbestos exposure. However, genetics alone are not a primary cause of the disease.

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  1. Age and Gender

Mesothelioma typically affects older individuals, with most cases diagnosed in people over 65. Men are more commonly affected than women, possibly from occupational differences.

  1. Pre-existing Lung Conditions

Individuals with underlying lung conditions, such as asbestosis resulting from the scarring of lung tissue from prior asbestos exposure, face an increased risk of developing mesothelioma.

Asbestosis indicates a history of asbestos inhalation and its harmful effects on the lungs. Pre-existing lung conditions suggest a compromised respiratory system, making these individuals more vulnerable to the carcinogenic effects of asbestos fibres.

  1. Radiographic Changes

Radiographic changes in the chest can tell if a person was exposed to asbestos. These changes indicate a higher risk of contracting mesothelioma. Studying such radio graphic signals is crucial as they give us a glimpse into a person’s history with asbestos exposure and whether they are vulnerable to subsequent health complications.



Asbestos exposure is, therefore, one of the leading causes of mesothelioma, a dreadful and tough-to-beat cancer. Early detection and prevention mainly rely on understanding how it is caused.

Though mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure, one is also more likely to contract this disease from genetics and environmental exposure. To eliminate future mesothelioma cases, we must reduce the use of asbestos and ensure such minerals are properly handled.

Besides, learning more about genetic and environmental factors will give us a better idea of how aggressive this rare cancer is.

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