Published based on Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelium, the protective single cell covering over the lung, abdominal, and
heart cavities. This cancer spreads rapidly, and is not easy to stop once it is present.
The leading cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. This exposure may occur 20 to 30 years before the
symptoms appear. Exposure of only one to three months is able to cause mesothelioma. Asbestos is able to help
change normal cells to cancer cells. The exact method is not yet known, but is believed to involve damage to the
DNA of the cell. Asbestos fibers enter the pleural (lung) cavity through the lung tissue, inhaled from the air. The
fibers may also be taken in through swallowing, thus infecting the abdominal area. The fibers can also be
transported through the lymphatic system of fluids to the body cavities.
Once the fibers are in the mesothelium tissue, they are able to adhere to portions of the cell DNA. This affinity
can lead to changing chromosome 22 into a single chromosome instead of the usual pair. Damage has also been
observed in the arms of other chromosomes. It is also clear that the cancer cell DNA can inhibit tumor suppressor
genes leading the to formation of tumors at a rapid rate.
The asbestos exposure has also been shown to alter the activity of the cell macrophages, resulting in an increase
in cancer causing radicals. These contribute to the formation of cancer cells by helping to damage the cell DNA.
Asbestos has been shown to facilitate the take up of these radicals by the mesothelium cells. The asbestos
exposure can also decrease the effect of the immunosuppressive actions of the body, preventing the body from
defending itself against tumor cells and radicals.
Once the cells have become cancer cells, they lead to the rapid production of tumors that block bodily functions,
such as breathing. These tumors can also block major blood vessels leading to tissue death or blood clots in
major arteries. The body is unable to provide proper nutrition due to the tumor growth. These changes to body
organs lead to the symptoms experienced by the cancer patient.
Non-asbestos causes of mesothelioma are rare, but have been confirmed in studies done on cancer victims over
the years. There are three main causes when mesothelioma is not caused by asbestos exposure:
Simian Virus 40: This is a rhesus monkey virus that was exposed to humans through contaminated polio vaccine.
Exposure to the virus has been linked to mesothelioma.
Radiation: Certain individuals that were exposed to high amounts of radiation have also come down with
mesothelioma. It is postulated that the radiation damaged the cell DNA.
Mineral Fibers: Other mineral fibers exist in nature which seem to act in a way similar to the asbestos fiber such
as erionite. Exposure to these fibers can result in mesothelioma.
Smoking is not a cause of mesothelioma cancer, but is mentioned here because it has been shown to clearly
speed up the rate of lung infection. This is due to the damage smoking does to lung tissues. Anyone who has
been exposed to any of the causes of mesothelioma should absolutely stop smoking.
Written by qodrnx
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