We have all heard about the effects that smoking can have on our health, potential respiratory issues, a yellowing of the fingernails and in some cases the risk of developing cancer. This is fairly well documented yet people continue to put their health at risk owed to the addictiveness of nicotine (a typical ingredient in almost all cigarettes). However can smoking increase the chances of developing or exacerbating a condition caused by another product.
Asbestos like cigarettes is a known carcinogen (meaning that is can cause cancer) it was used predominantly from the 1930’s until about the 1980’s in the construction trade where it served it’s purpose as an insulator. Studies conducted showed that exposure to the asbestos fibres could cause debilitating health issues such as Mesothelioma and Asbestosis, both of which can be fatal if not treated. Asbestos now has strict regulations controlling its use and import in a number of countries including the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
Industrial workers who regularly came into contact with asbestos are most at risk of developing these illnesses but many do not know about their illness or have only just found out. This is owed to asbestos related illnesses having lengthy latency periods of around 15-50 years. Many workers who are only now being diagnosed are of an older generation and are either long retired or left the industrial industry many years ago. Although they are eligible for compensation, this doesn’t make up for the fatal disease they are now suffering from.
During the prevalence of asbestos, smoking was less frowned upon than it is today and many of the workers have continued to smoke to this day. The health repercussions of continuing to smoke when suffering with an illness such as asbestosis are huge. Asbestosis is a scarring and inflammation of the lungs, smoking whilst suffering with this condition has been proven to increase the risk of developing lung cancer.
Mesothelioma is in itself a type of cancer, which is mainly found in the lining of the lungs (the pleura) and the heart. Treatment for mesothelioma is extremely intensive and requires chemotherapy, radiotherapy and in some cases invasive surgery. Sadly the aggressiveness of the disease is often too much for the human body to overcome and patients are generally given a life expectancy of around 18 months from diagnosis. Continuing to smoke during treatment of mesothelioma not only inhibits the recovery process it allows for further tumors to develop.
If you think that you may have been exposed to asbestos at some point during your life it is advisable to visit your local practitioner to explain your situation. If you are still smoking this may be another reason for quitting.