Asbestos-Induced Mesothelioma in Veterans
Veterans who served in the army, navy, air force and marines before 1970 are a high-risk group for mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused primarily by exposure to asbestos. It is estimated that at least 30 percent of those suffering with asbestos-induced mesothelioma are American veterans. In the 1970s the government began regulating the use of asbestos, but previous to that, asbestos was widely used in military buildings, equipment, submarines and ships. World War II veterans are at an especially high risk for developing asbestos-induced mesothelioma.
What is Asbestos-Induced Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a cancer affecting the mesothelium, a fine protective lining that covers the majority of the body’s organs. It is believed that 90 percent of mesothelioma cases are caused by asbestos exposure. The tiny fibers of asbestos bury themselves deep inside the lining, usually around the lungs and chest cavity. If asbestos gets into the mouth and is swallowed, mesothelioma can also develop in the abdomen.
Asebestos was often used in insulation, building materials, and ships, and people who worked in construction, building demolition, shipyards or the military prior to government asbestos regulations are at risk for asbestos-induced mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma takes an exceptionally long time to develop, often not showing up for 30 to 60 years after exposure. Because of this, many people are just finding out today that they are suffering with asbestos-induced mesothelioma, even though the government now regulates the use of asbestos. That is why it is essential that veterans who served prior to 1970 be screened regularly for mesothelioma.
Asbestos-Induced Mesothelioma in Navy Veterans
Navy veterans are at a greater risk than those who were involved in other branches of the military because of the wide-spread use of asbestos in military ships. All areas of navy ships built before the government began regulating the use of asbestos increased exposure including boiler rooms, mess halls, sleeping quarters, navigation rooms, and engine rooms. The families of those who served in the navy were also at increased risk of asbestos-induced mesothelioma because of asbestos fibers carried home on the clothes of navy veterans.
If a veteran believes he or she may be at risk for asbestos-induced mesothelioma, he or she needs to be checked regularly. Also, veterans rights organizations are advocating that the government take steps to help veterans who are suffering from mesothelioma or may be at risk.