Causes Of Mesothelioma

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Cancer of any kind is a very complicated disease. This is mainly because the cells of the human body are in a constant state of a fine-tuned balance. With the exception of certain types of skin cells, blood cells and germ-line cells (egg and sperm cells), most adult human body cells are not dividing. Even the types of cells that do divide regularly in adults will do so in a slow, controlled manner, and only divide a certain number of times before they die, thus keeping cell counts normal.

There are many genes, proteins, and enzymes that keep the cells healthy – many are as of yet undiscovered. They either stop the cell from growing at all or ensure that the growth remains steady. If these genes get damaged, the cell can lose control of it\'s growth or of its latency. Cells that were normally not dividing at all can suddenly have a burst of growth. However, it\'s not as simple as turning off a few genes and turning on other ones – all cells have a system of checks and safeguards that must be bypassed before they can divide. If the safeguards are not bypassed, the cell will know that something is wrong, and will initiate a pathway that results in its death. In this case, cell death is very desirable – if an abnormal cell were to live, it would eventually harm or even kill the organism that it\'s a part of.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that effects the mesothelium – the thin lining of the organs and body cavities. The disease is almost always caused by asbestos exposure. The tiny fibers of asbestos are enter the lungs and lodge themselves in the sensitive tissue. From there, they can find their way to the mesothelium that surrounds the lungs and damage the DNA of the otherwise normal cells of the pleura – the thin body cavity between the lungs and the ribcage. Since the body is unable to break down asbestos fibers, they can stay there over a lifetime, and the genes of the cells of the mesothelium can accumulate mutations. These mutations cause the cells to divide uncontrollably, leading to cancer.

Many studies have traced mesothelioma back to harmful asbestos exposure in a variety of ways – through working with it, mining it in its raw form, and even washing the clothes of someone who was around it. Harmful asbestos exposure is the cause of mesothelioma more than 90 percent of the time. Asbestos exposure can occur anywhere, but most of the time it is the result of exposure in the workplace.

Asbestos is not a single substance but rather is a name given to a wide variety of minerals and substances. Blue asbestos is the most dangerous kind of asbestos and along with brown asbestos and white asbestos form the large bulk of asbestos exposure cases. There are a lot of regulations for these three types of asbestos nowadays, but white asbestos is still frequently used in the construction of many textiles. For that reason, many different workers have the chance to come across it at some point during their careers.

The other 10% of cases of mesothelioma remain, for the most part, a mystery. There are some reports that suggest that x-ray imaging using thorium dioxide may cause mesothelioma. However, thorium dioxide is no longer used for imaging due to its carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effects. A link between a rare virus and mesothelioma has also been suggested, but nothing definitive has been found.

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