Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mesothelioma and Asbestos

First, the mesothelium. It's a frictionless monolayer lining that covers the internal organs. The luminal side has lots of microvilli that told fluids and proteins to allow intracoeolmic movement. It also helps leukocytes and other cells of the immune system to travel about in the fluid.

Mesothelium cells, with connective tissues.

How exactly does asbestos cause cancer? Well, it's made up of little tiny fibers that people inhale it. These fibers travel into the lungs and stick to its linings, damaging the membrane.  Intra-pleural inoculation of asbestos in rats have demonstrated that asbestos cause lesions within the lining, recruiting phagocytes and macrophages to the site of the lesion. The macrophages are part of the immune response, and they eat up cells which have asbestos in them. This in turn damages the macrophages and cause oxidative stress. Additionally, it is thought that smaller asbestos fibers can sometimes become entangled within the chromatin itself in the cell, and disrupt with the process of cellular division by interfering the packing and segregation of chromosomes. After many cycles of cellular division, the DNA damage accumulates. The subsequent damage induces the cell to undergo DNA repair, which is often error-prone. This is how asbestos damages the tissues, ultimately causing lesions to develop into a malignant tumor in the mesothelium.

Asbestos may interfere with cell division.
So why was asbestos use so widespread if the link between lung cancer and it was made in the early 19th century? Asbestos is a mineral that is heat-, friction-, and acid-resistant, easily obtained by mining, and easy to modify. These industrial merits are why companies today still incorporate asbestos into their products. Countries all over the world limit the use of asbestos. But whatever countries do to limit the use of asbestos, mesothelioma will still be a problem for years to come, because of there is long latency between asbestos exposure and the development of the disease. For example, the Japanese government expects the peak year for malignant mesothelioma to be in 2025. 

The widespread use of asbestos, the long latency period, the exclusive linkage between asbestos and malignant mesothelioma, and the fact that not all companies have enacted proper safety measures have opened the doors for a whole lot of lawsuits. People are seeking compensation, and in 1999, already 2 billion have been award to people. That's 2,000 million. No wonder there are lawyers and attorneys who specialize in mesothelioma cases.  Why not? Some mesothelioma lawyers have gotten recoveries of 3 million per victim. It's lucrative since not only is the five year survival rate very low (9%, so what's the point of a structured settlement?) and the treatment expensive, so many people were exposed to asbestos because of the American economy's emphasis on manufacturing (where contact with asbestos is most likely) after World War 2. On top of that, many companies that used asbestos were reluctant to get rid of asbestos, even when they knew the occupational hazards.

If you think you may have mesothelioma because you have the symptoms (weight loss, fever, cough, swelling due to fluid buildup) go get an MRI or a thoracoscopy (where they make an incision and put a camera to look into your chest).

Pleural mesothelioma tumor grows and effectively "shrinks" lung capacity. It affects 70% of patients.
Mesothelioma affects people from all walks of life. Steve McQueen died of a heart attack in Juarez, Mexico, after undergoing mesothelioma treatment. He was exposed to asbestos during his time in the United States Navy and during his long career as a race car driver. At the time, asbestos was used to insulate the piping on the boats and was also incorporated into  his racing suits.

68 scientific replies:

Shockgrubz said...

I had no clue that it was so pervasive. Thanks for the lesson.

Uberbyron said...

Quite a thorough article - thank you for opening my eyes to the influence of Asbestos.

Neon said...

There was Asbestos in my kindergarten :/

Neon said...

I heard there was a turkish village where every second person dies of a Mesothelioma

iNews said...

Interesting, looks awesome!

Diego Sousa said...

really interesting!

GMSoccerPicks said...

That was really interesting considering that in my country there is no real measures to control absestos in buildings i guess. At least not in the less favored areas.

nowaysj said...

This is interesting. I never really knew how this happened. Would be interested to hear about rockwool and its effects on the body.

ChazWellington said...

so coming in contact with it is ok, as long as you dont inhale? now i know.

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

Wow, really interesting. Glad I can explain asbestos better now, I knew it poked your lungs but I wasn't sure why that was so bad. Great read.

Bersercules said...

Thanks for this. I learnt alot!

That Bastard From Bellingham said...

Coming as I do from California originally, this was a huge thing (malignant mesothelioma, that is) to the point that pop culture used the whole ASBESTOS in humor whilst growing up.

Seriously, just one year you don't even hear a radio ad about it, then BOOM everyone's suing.

Good post though~! Biology is always cool to study, especially outside of Playboy.

Electric Addict said...

that lung does not look happy

vitaminandmineralfacts said...

I'm digging your blog, thanks for the time and effort you put into your articles. Be back soon.

poorfags said...

so that's what asbestos is all about.

My 2 Pesos said...

Not a good way to die. D:

Brofessor Neeko said...

My friends grandpa has this

ER Technician said...

It is a terrible disease and one of the worst ways to go. Appreciate you spreading the word.

BCTL said...

Man, I wish a mesothelioma attorney could score me 3 million.

Sketchar said...

Yes abestos is a very useful product, it is unfortunantely not user friendly, though yes it will take a long time for the affects, so people who are 40 and get exposed to it would probably be more afraid of dying of old age. Though when I was in America there was ads everywhere for a mesothelioma lawyer for asbestos exposure. But even though that is kind of greedy, going through cancer chemotherapy is a big deal and expensive. But still all that hassle for mesothelioma attorney. But I guess that mesothelioma settlement are large.

Lady Lunacy said...

this is pretty creepy. asbestos has always freaked me out but i haven't really known much about it, thanks~!

Jay Smith said...

I've always been very interested in this kind of stuff... very informative to say the least!

Kid Shuffle said...

I couldn't imagine living in an Asbestos mining town...

Hento the loony repairman :D said...

so thats how and whya sbestos is bad ... omg D: thx!

Bulletproof Zombie said...

Yeah, I recall seeing all of those ads for Roni Lynn Deutch. Shame that I can easily remember her name, but that's just a testament to her commercials. Always about the goddamn Mesothelioma...but it was a pretty severe condition, as you discuss here, so with good reason I suppose.

Or at least theoretically good reason. You know lawyers, most of them...

Jacob McCann said...

Wow, I really had no idea it was so prevalent. Great post, really really informative.

Timothy Bowen said...

always fun to run into a fellow science nerd, a mesothelioma attorney even?

Cap'n' Brandon said...

Absolutely fascinating once you look at every aspect of it.

convictus said...

Ah capitalism. Nice article.

nowaysj said...

Brb, taking an asbestos shower.

forange said...

A great post, I think asbestos is still a huge problem especially when old buildings are being demolished.

Charles Godfrey said...

I didn't know companies still used asbestos nowadays. This is terrible!
Is asbestos banned in every country? If that's not the case, I wonder if there's a map that shows where it's banned and where it isn't. That would come handy, I don't want my travels to make me get mesothelioma! At any rate, I hope my country banned asbestos a long time ago...

Equalz said...

Ive always seen the commercials for this, but never really understood what mesothelioma was. This helped me greatly, good read too.

The Sorrow said...

Realy cool man

Equalz said...

just shoot me an email at gen, we can discuss the banner if you please.

DWei said...

That doesn't look pleasant at all...

ThingsYouWant said...

I was just watching the "Bones" TV episode about this!! Its so sad :/ That does not look fun at all

M Fawful said...

You seriously still hear about mesothelioma lawsuits on TV all the time in commercials for ambulance chasers.

steveo360 said...

So THATS why I shouldn't go into old buildings... Interesting read.

Clotifoth said...

As to what the person above said, I read Roni Lynn Deutch and heard it, in her voice, in my head. That was really weird. Anyway, great information about asbestos, ++Follow

MrZakPK said...

This is some really interesting stuff
Reminds me of my Biology class in Freshman year
Nostalgia ftw :P

gog said...

argh! science! anxiety attack! cancer!

Jammer said...

lots of lawsuits over that too.


This reminds me of highschool !

ShadedGaming said...

My father lived in an asbestos mining town and yet somehow didn't get a trace of cancer.

Tough son of gun =P

Keep up the posts!!!

Anonymous said...

People don't seem to like the idea that a lawyer can have a mesothelioma patient for a client and get that client a lot of money. Not sure why...? Yes, the lawyer also gets a lot of money, but you can file your own lawsuit if you want to. Just like you can do your own brain surgery if you want to. The lawyers provide a service, if you don't like the service, don't hire them.

DesoWave said...

Oh, how interesting this is. To think that such a tiny thing can kill a full grown human. Simply epic.

TheSeint05 said...

Wow, this is really eye opening...

Airanel said...

Kinda sad that they just "limit" the use of asbestos...even in the world of today...

Publius said...

I always wondered about what Mesothelioma was and how asbestos are so dangerous to people. Now, I know! Nasty stuff, I feel really bad for people who fell victim to i. Follow +1

Anonymous said...

I had Mesothelioma (note the had). A dreadful disease with virtually no hope of recovery - I'm the exception though god knows why. It appears my immune system fought a battle and won because my immunologist tells me I have immunity to some key antigens which express on meso cells. Whatever, I'm still here 9 years after I had my right lung removed. Meso will be around for a lung time for two reasons. 1) It is still being mined and exported, especially by Canada. 2) It is ever present in most public buildings and almost impossible to make completely safe. Theoretically it only takes one fibre to cause meso and EVERYBODY (yes I mean everybody) will have some asbestos in their lungs. The more people who fight for the total banning and removal of asbestos worldwide the better for everyone. It really is a killer....

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