Asbestosis is a restrictive lung disease which can be fatal. In addition, exposure to asbestos can cause lung cancer and a cancer of the lung lining called mesothelioma. While lung cancer has a number of associated causes, asbestosis and mesothelioma are uniquely associated with exposure to asbestos. The combination of smoking and exposure to asbestos greatly increases the risk of developing of lung cancer. We are most concerned about people being exposed to airborne asbestos and breathing in the tiny fibers.
Inhalation of asbestos fibers is the primary cause of asbestos-related disease. These fibers are very small and sharp. If they are not expelled through coughing or mucus secretions, they become embedded in the lung. Inhaled asbestos is associated with three major diseases:
- Asbestosis – Asbestos causes scarring of lung tissue that eventually restricts one’s ability to inhale.
- Lung Cancer – Asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer, especially in combination with exposure to tobacco smoke.
- Mesothelioma – Asbestos is thought to be the primary cause of this rare and deadly type of cancer of the lung lining and chest wall.