Risk of Mesothelioma
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The most common risk factor for malignant mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, with over 50% of the patients having a history of asbestos exposure. This exposure can occur while directly handling the fibrous material, or through environmental exposure.
There are many documented cases where patients contracted the disease simply by living close to asbestos mines or by coming in contact with asbestos of some form. People most commonly experiencing mesothelioma symptoms include shipyard workers, construction workers, automobile mechanics, insulation workers, pipe and heater installation, flooring workers and roofers.
Additionally, for those who have had asbestos exposure and who smoke, the risk is even higher. Studies show that asbestos workers who smoke are 55 times more likely to die of mesothelioma than nonsmokers without asbestos exposure. Regardless of the aggravating factors, with no known effective mesothelioma treatment, this rare form of cancer is always fatal.
Simian Virus 40
Simian Virus 40 is a virus that infects several species of monkeys, but does not cause symptoms or disease in the monkeys. This virus has been shown to induce mesothelioma in rodents and to transform human cells. Simian Virus 40 was transferred to humans via contaminated polio vaccines in the late 1950's and early 1960's. In the 60's, monkey kidney cells were used to produce the original polio vaccines. Some of the monkeys were infected with the disease, and these virus cells were included in the vaccines. It is estimated that between 1955 and 1963 some 10 to 30 million people may have been exposed to live Simian Virus 40. After 1963, none of this virus has been detected in vaccines.
Epidemiology studies have found no link between exposure to this virus and increased incidence of mesothelioma. However, due to the long latency of the disease, it may be too early to determine whether the inadvertent exposure to the virus will cause any cases of mesothelioma.
Erionite is a mineral that has a long, thin rod-like amphiboles structure. Exposure to this mineral has been associated with increased incidence of mesothelioma. Erionite exposure has a high mortality rate due to mesothelioma in Anatolia, Turkey.