Mesothelioma: Myths and Misconceptions

Mesothelioma is a complicated disease with many false misconceptions. These faulty notions range from how people get mesothelioma to who can develop the disease. To provide some clarity, we will run through the five biggest misconceptions regarding asbestos exposure leading to mesothelioma. 

Myth #1: The United States Has Banned Asbestos and It Is No Longer Used

This one couldn’t be further from the truth. As recently as 2019, a bill was introduced in the United States House of Representatives attempting to curb imports of asbestos products. To date, the bill has not been voted on, and the United States remains the only developed Western country to not ban asbestos imports. In fact, U.S. imports of asbestos doubled from 2017 to 2018, jumping from an estimated 332 metric tons to 750.

Myth #2: Risk of Mesothelioma Is Only Applicable to Individuals Who Work Directly With Asbestos

While it is true those who work around asbestos have an increased likelihood of developing mesothelioma, indirect contact with asbestos is just as threatening as handling the substance directly. Secondhand exposure to asbestos predominantly occurs when asbestos fibers are released into the air and absorbed in things such as clothes, hair or furniture. The biggest contributor to secondhand exposure is considered to be clothes because washing asbestos covered attire or even giving hugs provides the opportunity to inhale the material. It is advised to throw away any clothes known to contain asbestos. 

Myth #3: Mesothelioma Only Affects the Elderly

Mesothelioma can affect individuals of any age. The reason older people are typically diagnosed with mesothelioma is because it takes the cancer a long period of time to develop within your body. Unfortunately, this does not mean the asbestos fibers aren’t damaging your body during that time. 

Myth #4: Asbestos Workers Ignored the Health Risks of Asbestos Exposure

The earliest known asbestos workers simply did not know the life-threatening risks of asbestos exposure. This is mainly because manufacturers stock piled on asbestos products due to its cheapness without fully understanding the impact asbestos fibers would have on workers health. Production of asbestos rapidly increased in the early 1900s; health risks of asbestos exposure didn’t reach national spotlight until the 1980s. Unfortunately, it has also been documented during the early stages of manufacturing asbestos products that executives hid damaging internal studies. These internal studies revealed asbestos workers were becoming ill due to respiratory issues at a much higher rate than the average population.  

Myth #5: Mesothelioma Is Just A Different Name for Lung Cancer

Lung cancer can develop from genetics, smoking or a number of other factors. Meanwhile, the only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. It is important to note that asbestos exposure can cause lung cancer as well, which easily creates confusion amongst the two. A second main difference between the two cancers is the way they form within our body. Lung cancer tumors form in lumps while mesothelioma spreads across the lungs lining. The unique shape of mesothelioma tumors make it especially difficult for doctors to treat. 

We hope these clarifications provide value to you. It is important to take any exposure to mesothelioma seriously. If you have any further questions or believe you may have been exposed to asbestos feel free to reach out to our office at 312-466-1669. We have medical and legal resources readily available to you or a loved one.