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The Link Between Asbestos Exposure and Smoking

By Robert Linebaugh

It is common knowledge that smoking is hazardous to one's health. Additionally, many people know that exposure to asbestos is very dangerous and can lead to the development of the disease mesothelioma. What many people do not know, however, is that when smoking and asbestos exposure are combined, both of the harmful elements work together to create a much higher risk for the development of mesothelioma, or other types of cancers.

Cigarettes have many harmful chemicals that break down the lungs and can be leading causes in cancer. Asbestos exposure also exposes the lung to harmful chemicals that weaken your body's defenses against cancers and other lung problems. Studies have found that cigarette smokers have a four to eleven times greater chance of getting lung cancer than non-smokers. If a person is a heavy smoker, than the number goes up to twenty-seven times as likely. Adding a heavy smoker to asbestos exposure sends the probabilities for lung cancer skyrocketing. In fact, heavy smokers with a history of asbestos exposure have a 50 to 90 times greater chance of having lung cancer. Needless to say, heavy smoking and large amounts of asbestos exposure will almost certainly lead to lung cancer.

Smoking causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). People who smoke and have been exposed to asbestos have higher occurrences of COPD than people who have not been exposed to asbestos. Some of the terrible effects of COPD are the inflammation and eventual destruction of small airways in the lung tissue. Once these tissues have been destroys, some people can be completely debilitated.

Studies have shown that people who quit smoking, but still had asbestos exposure are less likely to have lung cancer than those people who continue to smoke. Some say that COPD can be reversed the longer time is spent without smoking. Additionally, people who are able to quit smoking often feel healthier over time and significantly increase their life expectancy. Even though any amount of smoking or asbestos exposure can lead to lung cancer, the sooner one quits, the better off he or she will be.

Asbestos exposure is very harmful for anyone. However if you know that you have been exposed to asbestos, and continue to smoke, you are playing with fate. The sooner someone stops smoking, the sooner his or her lungs can begin to heal. Mesothelioma and other cancers are very serious diseases that often end in death. In order to stay alive for loved ones, smokers should quit immediately.

About The Author

Robert Linebaugh writes about a variety of health issues, but focuses on mesothelioma topics. Learn more at


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