The risk factors of Mesothelioma Question 4

In general, a risk factor is anything that can increase a person’s chance of getting a particular disease. The biggest risk factor for developing mesothelioma is an exposure to asbestos. Most people with this disease have, at some point in their lives, worked on jobs where they breathed in asbestos fibers. 

The risk of developing mesothelioma is directly related to how much asbestos exposure a person has had and for how long. People who have a risk of occupational asbestos exposure include factory workers, ship builders, brake repair workers, construction workers, insulation manufacturers and installers, asbestos miners, and many others.


Family members of people exposed to asbestos at work are also at an increased risk for mesothelioma. This is because these asbestos fibers are carried home on the clothes, shoes, skin, and hair of these workers and can be inhaled by others.

Simian virus 40, or SV40, is a virus that has been associated with the development of malignant mesothelioma. This virus is found in rhesus monkeys and is now widespread among humans. The way this virus was transferred from monkeys to humans is uncertain, but it is postulated that some of the transfer occurred from 1954 to 1963 through SV40-contaminated polio vaccines administered worldwide. 

Those people who received the injectable form of the polio vaccine are believed to be those at greatest risk. This vaccine doesn’t fully explain the transfer of this virus, because many humans who could not have received the contaminated vaccines are now infected with the SV40 virus. One theory that has been proposed is that the SV40 virus continues to be transferred from monkeys to humans or that humans can pass the virus from person to person. 

The latter theory has been supported by data showing that SV40 can be excreted in human feces, breast milk, and semen. 

It is unlikely that this virus acts alone in the development of mesothelioma as most cancers have multiple risk factors associated with their development, and most mesotheliomas occur in asbestos exposed individuals. Instead, it is more likely that asbestos and SV40 may act together to develop into mesothelioma.

Although rare, cases of mesothelioma have been found following radiation exposure to the chest and abdomen. These individuals were usually treated in the  past with radiation therapy for a malignancy of the lymph glands known as lymphoma.

Lastly, there is an indication that a person’s own genes can play an important role in determining who is susceptible, or vulnerable, to these mineral fibers and will then develop mesothelioma. It is hoped that doctors will be able to find the specific susceptibility gene in the future and that this may lead to the development of new prevention and treatment strategies to better control this disease.


The risk factors of Mesothelioma Question 4 The risk factors of Mesothelioma Question 4 Reviewed by Ari on 6:22 AM Rating: 5

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