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Cigarette Smoking and Asbestos Exposure

For many years, scientists have realized that while cigarette smoking and asbestos exposure pose individual risk factors for the development of cancer, in combination, these risk factors are greatly increased.

More than 4,000 chemicals are found in cigarette smoke, and of these, more than 60 are classified as cancer-causing agents in humans. Each year 440,000 deaths in the United States are attributable to cigarette smoking, linked primarily to cancer, heart disease and stroke. Even for those who are non-smokers, exposure can occur secondarily in the home, workplace or environment.

Some of the chemicals found in cigarette smoke are:

Chemicals found in cigarette smoke

Asbestos is the name for a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals with a high tensile strength, the ability to be woven and a strong resistance to heat and chemicals. The fibers are so small they cannot be seen with the naked eye, and have no taste or smell. For decades asbestos was common in work environments where it was used in a wide range of applications including insulating materials, roofing materials, ceiling and floor tiles, paper and cement products, friction products, coatings and textiles.

Breathing asbestos fibers can cause lung damage which can lead to non-cancerous asbestos diseases such as pleural disease and asbestosis, or to cancerous diseases such as lung cancer or mesothelioma. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, some may be expelled, but others may remain in the lungs for a lifetime. Cigarette smoking weakens the lungs and decreases their ability to expel fibers. Smoking also acts as an irritant in the air passages causing a higher production of mucus, thereby blocking the passage of air and further decreasing the removal of fibers from the lungs.

As stated previously, both smoking and asbestos exposure can cause lung cancer, but when the risk factors combine, the risks are increased by 50 to 84 times. By comparison to non-smokers, men who smoke are approximately 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer and women who smoke are approximately 13 times more likely.

It has been proven that health benefits, from immediate to long-term, are obtained when a person quits smoking. If you smoke, you should stop, and secondhand exposure should also be avoided. Get regular medical checkups from your doctor. Reduce the possibility of asbestos exposure by not disturbing areas which may contain asbestos products, and if these products must be removed, either hire experienced professionals or follow the guidelines for handling asbestos that have been set up by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

If you, or someone you know, has lung cancer and you would like to know if they qualify for additional compensation, please call 1-800-258-1054 for a FREE consultation.