Category: Disease Prevention

Veterans And Mesothelioma Cancer

Published:22 Feb, 2017     By: Salan Khalkho     5 min read

Nearly one third of all annually diagnosed case of mesothelioma cancer involved former service members. This is because once asbestos was carelessly used in every branch of military service and this continues to generate serious health issues even today. Today asbestos is banned in USA for virtually all uses.


30 percent of all mesothelioma patients are military veterans

Veterans account for almost 30 percent of all mesothelioma patients. Military veterans, especially who have served in the U.S. Navy unfortunately have been unnecessarily exposed to asbestos during their service. The exposure to asbestos has placed them at risk for developing pleural mesothelioma. Nearly one third of all annually diagnosed case of mesothelioma cancer involved former service members.

This is because once asbestos was carelessly used in every branch of military service and this continues to generate serious health issues even today. Today asbestos is banned in USA for virtually all uses. Mesothelioma has a long period of latency of twenty to fifty years. That means veterans exposed to asbestos and retired from their active job decades ago are getting sick today.

asbestos was extensively used in military

Asbestos prevents burn and injuries and because of its insulation properties and the fact that it is impervious to flame, it was extensively used in military which consequently put thousands of veterans at risk of developing asbestos related disease, the most common of them being mesothelioma cancer.

When asbestos fibers are broken during daily use or while repairing or maintaining, it becomes airborne and easily enters human body while breathing. Once inside the body, they settle down in the lining of the lungs and overtime causes tumor growth which eventually leads to pleural mesothelioma.

    risk of developing pleural mesothelioma

    Individuals who have served in the U.S. military prior to late 1980s are at higher risk of developing pleural mesothelioma or other asbestos related disease. Around this time asbestos was extensively used in almost every facets of military life from land to sea. Veterans from all military branches may have been exposed to asbestos. Sailors from the U.S. Navy are considered among the ones with highest risk of exposure.

    Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral which is made up of flexible, microscopic fibers that is light as air and possess high tensile strength. Asbestos is highly resistant to heat, water and corrosive damage. This makes it an ideal material for variety of jobs ranging from construction of building insulation to break pads in car.

    Asbestos doesn't pose a direct threat, but if its fine particles are inhaled, they get embedded in the lining of the lungs. Over time these tiny fibers develop into mesotheliom cancer. The symptoms of mesothelioma do not usually present themselves until 10 to 50 years.

      Navy

      Among all the branches, Navy is most linked to asbestos. During early and mid of 20th century, most of the ships were built and maintained using this toxic material. Navy has always regarded fire-at-sea as one of the greatest threat to the safety of its service men. Since asbestos is cheap and has a fire resistant property, it found wide spread use in almost every aspect of construction while expanding its fleet.

      Navy vessels were laden with asbestos

      Navy vessels were laden with more than 300 asbestos containing materials. Asbestos was used in variety of ways such as pipe covering, millboard, thermal material, deck covering material, insulation adhesives, packing materials, gaskets, paneling, boilers on board ships and bedding materials.

      The men and women directly involved in repairing these products where at the highest risk. Most of the ships also had poor ventilation system that allowed for fine asbestos to easily travel through air vents in about every room, placing every one board at risk.

      Asbestos containing products were extensively used in military since it was cheap, fireproof and readily available. It was used in construction of literally everything from ships, aircraft, and transportation vehicles to bases.

      The use of asbestos in Navy was not limited to ships and submarine construction but was also used for land base and housing unit construction.

      Army

      Army veterans are also at significant risk of developing mesothelioma. Asbestos is used in military for variety of purposes such as for construction of military barracks because of its fire resistant properties. Asbestos and its products were banned around 1980s, yet hundreds of military areas were left with asbestos in cement, wall insulation and ceiling tiles for as late as 1990s.

      asbestos was used in construction of military barracks

      Many soldiers who held certain occupation as a part of their service were at risk for occupational exposure because of the frequent use of asbestos materials in performing their occupation. Some of these occupations are:

      • Plumbers
      • Electrician
      • Construction Engineer
      • Fire Fighters

      Marines

      Marine Corps Veterans had the risk of being exposed to asbestos both on the naval vessels as well as on the land. The exposure could occur occupationally or during transportation through ships, aircraft and other vehicles or while they are there in their barracks. A report was published in 2007 that described the use of asbestos material at Parris Island, a place where most marine go for boot camp.

      marines are exposed to asbestos

      Marines are also often first to be deployed at the war zone where there is risk of exposure to airborne asbestos following bombing raids. Though risk of exposure is low through this way, it still is a concern.

      Air Force

      There are chances that Air Force veterans may also have been exposed to asbestos in military barracks and because of their occupations. Asbestos was used in aircraft besides being used in many military vehicles such as gaskets, aircraft cargo bays, breaks and insulation. Air Force mechanics have significant risk of exposure because of the use of asbestos in aircrafts. The Air Force has also used asbestos in air cooling systems.

      Air Force veterans are exposed to asbestos

      There are around 22 million veterans in the United States and majority of them have been exposed to asbestos at some point during their military service. A portion of them will eventually be diagnosed with asbestos related disease. Since mesothelioma is very difficult to detect, it often delays the start of treatment and greatly limits the treatment options.

      Many symptoms mirror less serious illness making their detection difficult. Some of the early warning signs include persistent cough, fever and night sweats. These are often misdiagnosed as pneumonia or influenza which gives more time to cancer to spread. Though there is no cure yet for mesothelioma, there are significant advancements being made in treatment through clinical trials.



      Important Note: Medical and health related information given in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. This article is intended for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment.



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