Does smoking increase the risk of mesothelioma?

It is important to understand that smoking does not cause mesothelioma. Even though smoking alone is not linked to mesothelioma, asbestos exposed individuals who smoke have increased risk of developing asbestos related diseases as compared to non-smoker who have been exposed to asbestos. The reason behind this is that smoking weakens and damages the lungs. It reduces the body’s natural defenses and ability to remove asbestos fibers. When the fibers cannot be removed by the body, they are allowed to stay in the lungs and continue to irritate cells. This leads to more cell damage. Additionally, smoking dramatically increases the risk of lung cancer (cancer of lung passages) as compared to the general population. Therefore, mesothelioma patients who smoke are also more prone to getting lung cancer. On e study of asbestos workers found a five fold increase of lung cancer, while asbestos exposure and smoking together lead to 55-fold increase in the risk of lung cancer. Research indicates that lung cancer is the leading cause of death among asbestos workers. Among asbestos workers, one death in five is due to lung cancer and one in ten due to mesothelioma. There is evidence that quitting smoking will reduce the risk of lung cancer among asbestos-exposed workers. It is important for mesothelioma patients to stop smoking immediately after diagnosis.

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Website updated on Mar 20, 2019