How is mesothelioma caused by asbestos?

People generally understand how dangerous asbestos is. The fact that exposure to asbestos can result in devastating and life-threatening illnesses has been known for decades. In fact, there are a number of laws, regulations and awareness campaigns designed to protect people from asbestos.

However, it can still be difficult to understand why exactly asbestos is so dangerous because it doesn’t cause immediate symptoms and the damage is being done slowly and inside a person’s body. Knowing how asbestos causes illnesses like mesothelioma can be important in helping people better understand why asbestos is such a hazard and why it can be crucial to hold people responsible if and when they fail to protect others from exposure.

When asbestos is released into the air and a person breathes in the sharp fibers, the asbestos can enter the throat, lungs and abdomen where it can become lodged in the tissues. Over time, the fibers cause irritation which can result in flammation. In some cases, this condition results in the deformation of cells and the development of cancer.

The time between breathing in asbestos and diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness can be decades because of how slowly the damage is done. But by the time a person is uncomfortable enough to seek medical treatment, the damage may be beyond repair and treatment can be ineffective.

This is why it can be crucial to know if, when and for how long you have been exposed to asbestos. Being aware of these factors can help people be proactive, monitor their symptoms and seek early treatment if necessary.

Source:, “How asbestos exposure leads to mesothelioma,” Suzanne Carlile, Sept. 15, 2014