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Study finds links between occupational work, smoking and asbestos

Learning that you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos can be devastating. No matter what level of exposure a person has had, he or she could be at risk of developing an asbestos-related illness. Sadly, people will not be able to find this out for years, as illnesses like asbestosis and mesothelioma generally several years or decades to start showing symptoms.

One of the biggest concerns about asbestos exposure is that there is no level that has been identified as safe. That means that even short periods of breathing in the fibers could end up doing serious damage to a person's health. However, recent research suggests that the people at a higher risk of asbestos-related illnesses are those who worked around asbestos for extended periods of time and smoke. 

These risk factors may be quite concerning for the huge numbers of people who worked in construction, railroads, steel mills and other similar industries who also smoked. The research, conducted by two pulmonologists in Amsterdam, confirmed that the people in these categories are among those who have an increased risk of developing certain cancers. 

The research also suggests that even people with lower levels of exposure to asbestos were at an elevated risk if they smoked. The doctors found that the risk of developing lung cancer, mesothelioma or laryngeal cancer is lower for people who neither smoke nor work in an environment where asbestos is present. 

Despite these findings, the doctors were unable to identify any level of exposure that is considered safe. This means that a person may be more aware that they could develop an illness if they were exposed to very high levels of asbestos and smoke, but they are not the only people who can get sick, and not all of them even do get sick.

Asbestos exposure affects people differently. However, when people are diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, it is important to remember that they all have the right to discuss their options for compensation with an attorney.

Source: Surviving Mesothelioma, "How Much Asbestos Can Cause Mesothelioma?" May 2, 2014

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