How Asbestos Fibers Damage Tissue
From some of the more recent studies the discovery that asbestos fibers are the cause of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a kind of cancer that has a detrimental effect on the lining of the lungs and can affect the heart and abdominal area. Scientists’ have zeroed in on the primary cause for this cancer and other health related problems. Asbestos fibers that are inhaled get lodged in the body. There is no known method of getting them out of the body once they become lodged. When this occurs the fibers cause an irritation that is linked to malignant mesothelioma. The scientists know the cause very well but how it turns into cancer is still unknown.
The process occurs when the body inhales the fibers. The body’s response is to produce mucus that is supposed to surround the irritating fibers. The body’s response is to cough which meant to expel the mucus and the irritating fibers. The body is an amazing machine as it has a backup method in the immune system to rid the body of the irritant. The second method is called “phagocytosis” that under normal conditions would also work. After many years of weakening of the natural immune system from our environment it just does not work as well as it should.
Lorella Pascolo headed a scientific study in Italy with the synchrotron soft X-Ray imaging. The X-Ray Fluorescence microscopy was use to study the chemical makeup of the mesothelioma. Some interesting facts were discovered. They learned how the chemicals involved could dictate the body’s response to the asbestos fibers.
Asbestos Fibers Chemical Analysis
The studies performed in the past did not have the ability to reveal the material that was lodged in the affected tissues. The unique new technique used makes use of a chemical analysis of the asbestos fibers. This reveals the internal mechanism that happens when the fibers lodge in and start their damage to the tissues.
Scientists found out that the body’s natural defense was to construct a casing around the contaminating fibers. Their belief was this casing was a natural protective mechanism. This mechanism was collectively named “asbestos body”. The idea of the study was to see if they could differentiate between the casing and the asbestos fibers. They were able to do this by measuring the iron, magnesium and oxygen content. The result was the casing primarily consisted of iron, magnesium and oxygen. The asbestos fibers were very high in silicon as suspected.
It was also postulated that the surrounding tissue that tested very high in iron may be generating oxidative stress leading to cellular damage. The metals in the asbestos fibers are thought to responsible for the carcinogenic properties. A study of two most carcinogenic forms of asbestos crocidolite and amosite are more than 30% iron. Although not confirmed iron rich proteins from the embedded fibers increase the DNA damage which is believed to turn the tissues cancerous.
Mesothelioma has no known cure and most diagnosed live less than a year. The cancer is terminal and as many as 2 to 3000 people are diagnosed with the deadly disease every year in the United States. There are many more cases in the other industrialized countries of the world that take fewer precautions. There is much more asbestos awareness training needed the world over.
There are high hopes that a much better understanding of the chemical elements will lead to how the mesothelioma develops into cancer. This is thought that a deeper study of the chemical elements related to asbestos fibers may lead to more effective treatments of the disease.