Hi Strong and Built Readers! My name is Faith Franz, and I’m a writer for The Mesothelioma Center. Leslie asked us to answer a few questions for you, and I was more than excited by the opportunity. I’ve watched two of my family members fight cancer over the last three years, and I can’t help but wonder if more cancer awareness could have helped them avoid the ordeal.
Any chance I get to help others learn about how to protect themselves from the same situation, I’m a happy lady.
With that, let’s jump right in! Leslie’s questions are in italics, and below are my responses:
1.) Have doctors and scientists studied a potential link between asbestos exposure and breast cancer? What evidence did they find?
Medical professionals started researching asbestos and breast cancer in the 1970s. They’re still looking for a definitive answer, but as of right now they don’t have enough data to officially confirm a link between the two.
However, you’ll notice that they can’t officially rule one out.
In several studies, researchers have found a higher incidence of breast cancer in women with a history of asbestos exposure. In some studies, there is a much higher-than-expected rate of breast cancers. For instance, one study observed 12 breast cancer deaths in asbestos-exposed women, when a non-exposed population was expected to have fewer than 10.5 deaths.
This data isn’t quite enough to create a link, though. In some studies, there is an increased incidence, but it’s not big enough to be statistically significant. In other studies, the population size is too small for the data to be conclusive. Researchers are still diligently looking, but it might be tough to officially arrive at a link; the number of women who were exposed to asbestos is much lower than the number of men who came into contact with the fibers. This makes it hard to assemble a large, statistically significant group of asbestos-exposed women for a breast cancer study.
2.) How many women diagnosed with breast cancer have been exposed to asbestos?
Since no causal relationship between asbestos and breast cancer has been discovered, studies on the incidence of breast cancer patients with a history of asbestos exposure are limited. However, one British study did find that out of 82 female breast cancer patients, 38 had asbestos in their bodies when they died. Again, that’s a small study, so it’s in no way indicative of worldwide averages, but it does give us an idea of the potential asbestos exposure among women with the disease.
3.) How can a woman know if she has been exposed to asbestos? Where is asbestos found these days?
Asbestos fibers break into microscopic particles, so most people don’t see them to immediately know that they are being exposed. That’s what makes it so dangerous!
While everyone does come into contact with a very miniscule amount of asbestos at some point during their lives, most major exposure hazards have been addressed by now. Several decades ago, people came into contact with it frequently at industrial worksites, in environmental deposits, or even when using certain home products like blow-dryers, talcum powder and oven mitts. Some women were even exposed while washing asbestos-contaminated laundry.
Thankfully, there are fewer exposure hazards these days. Most current exposure threats lie within older homes (primarily those built before the 1980s). If these homes still contain their original construction materials, renovations may disturb the asbestos that lies within the products. To avoid these hazards, an asbestos abatement company should always inspect a house before the owners perform (or hire a construction company to perform) any updates.
4. IF a woman has asbestos in her home, what's the safest way to remove it?
There’s only one completely safe way to remove asbestos in your home – and that’s NOT to do it yourself! Homeowners can legally remove their own asbestos, but there are just so many ways that removal can go wrong. Women should always contact a licensed abatement team to inspect their homes and address any immediate hazards!
Author bio: Faith Franz has spent nearly two years researching and writing for The Mesothelioma Center. As an advocate for alternative medicine, she encourages patients to explore all of the treatment options that could potentially save their life.
Please feel free to check out The Mesothelioma Center’s Wall of Hope page, which features stories from survivors, their caregivers, and individuals remembering those that lost their fight to this horrible disease.