Cancer Lesson #??: Some cancers are preventable.
If you’re a woman, you have only a one in eight chance of getting breast cancer in your lifetime.
I say “only” because your chances of getting some form of cancer in your lifetime is actually one in three.
One in three.
An incredible ratio in every horrifying sense.
If you’re a man, the news is worse. You have a one in two chance of getting cancer in your lifetime.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at the chart on the American Cancer Society website (http://tinyurl.com/cancerchances).
Take heart. Although no one is 100% sure what causes every cancer, there are many things you can do to lower your risk.
This mostly involves making the logical choices you’d make if you want to live a long and healthy life. Exercise regularly. Don’t smoke. Eat a reasonable diet. Don’t drink too much.
There is one type of cancer,however, caused almost exclusively by single factor — exposure to asbestos. That cancer is mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma has a long latency period, but is extremely aggressive. This means a person could have it for years, then be diagnosed as being in a late stage of the disease when the survival rate is considerably lower.
Obviously, we need to avoid asbestos. This lowers your risk factor to almost zero.
Until I wrote this post, I thought this would be simple because asbestos is banned in the U.S., right?
Here’s what the EPA says about the material, “On July 12, 1989, the EPA issued a final rule banning most asbestos-containing products. In 1991, this regulation was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, as a result of the Court’s decision, only a few asbestos-containing products remain banned.” (http://www2.epa.gov/asbestos/asbestos-laws-and-regulations#epalaws)
Also, “On July 12, 1989, EPA issued a final rule banning most asbestos-containing products. In 1991, this regulation was overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. As a result of the Court’s decision, the following specific asbestos-containing products remain banned: flooring felt, rollboard, and corrugated, commercial, or specialty paper. In addition, the regulation continues to ban the use of asbestos in products that have not historically contained asbestos, otherwise referred to as “new uses” of asbestos.” (http://www2.epa.gov/asbestos/asbestos-ban-and-phase-out-federal-register-notices)
So, we can still be exposed, as were countless others before we knew the dangers. If someone in your family worked in the building trade, chances are they came in contact with asbestos, which means you probably did too since the fibers cling to clothing, thus invading the home.
Fortunately, there’s now a blood test that measures the biomarkers of Mesothelioma long before it can be otherwise diagnosed. To quote the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, “Scientists have been working on new tests that strive to diagnose the disease at an earlier stage. For example, the Mesomark® assay is a simple blood test that measures the rate of Soluble Mesothelin-Related Peptides (SMRP) in the blood. This biomarker is released by mesothelioma cells into the bloodstream and SMRP can be elevated for many years before symptoms appear and an actual diagnosis of the disease is made.” (http://www.mesothelioma.com/mesothelioma/prognosis/)
As with any cancer, early diagnosis is key to survival. Catching the disease in its early stages makes it imminently more treatable, and becoming aware of the risk factors makes early diagnosis more likely.
As I said earlier, there many ways to lower your risk of getting cancer. Avoiding asbestos is certainly one of them.
For more information on this disease, visit http://www.mesothelioma.com/mesothelioma/information/