The major known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Asbestos fibers that are inhaled through the mouth and nose may eventually become embedded in the lining of the lungs, causing damage and resulting in lung cancer or asbestosis. It has also been found that swallowing asbestos fibers could contribute to a form of mesothelioma originating in the abdomen called Peritoneal Mesothelioma.
2. Asbestos fibers enter cells and disrupt the function of cellular structures that are essential for normal cell division, causing cellular changes that lead to cancer.
3. Asbestos causes the production of free radicals. These molecules damage DNA and cause cells to mutate and become cancerous.
4. The presence of asbestos causes cells to produce oncoproteins. These molecules cause mesothelial cells to ignore normal cellular division restraints, and s can lead to the development of cancer.
Asbestos insulation workers appear to have the highest death rate. One study reports that almost six percent of asbestos workers fall victim to mesothelioma and asbestos insulation workers are over 300 times more likely to die from mesothelioma than the general public.
Although smoking has not been associated with the development of mesothelioma, the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure significantly increases a person's risk of developing pleural mesothelioma.