It was brought to my attention from Emily, at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, that this week is National Women’s Health Week! We have an entire week focused on some of the health issues that face women. I know I am not always up to date on some of the different health issues that many women face, and I was a bit surprised myself to learn more about one specific type of cancer that is affecting women more and more.
If you are anything like me, you have seen the commercials on TV about how mesothelioma has affected many lives. If you are like me then you have also probably noticed that the commercials highlight this as a cancer that men face as a result of exposure to asbestos.
I know I have seen the commercials over and over again, but I never really asked myself what ARE asbestos, and am I at risk?
Asbestos is the name given to a group of minerals that occur naturally in the environment as bundles of fibers that can be separated into thin, durable threads. These fibers are resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals and do not conduct electricity. For these reasons, asbestos has been used widely in many industries. (Source)
According to the National Cancer Institute, we are all exposed to asbestos. However, those exposed to high levels, or who work or live in an environment with high or constant exposure have a much higher risk of getting ill. People may be exposed to asbestos in their workplace, their communities, or their homes. If products containing asbestos are disturbed, tiny asbestos fibers are released into the air. When asbestos fibers are breathed in, they may get trapped in the lungs and remain there for a long time. Over time, these fibers can accumulate and cause scarring and inflammation, which can affect breathing and lead to serious health problems. (Source)
Here are a few facts that Emily shared with me about mesothelioma.
To learn more: Mesothelioma.com
So what can YOU do? First of all, if you feel you have had exposure to asbestos, see a medical professional and get checked out.
If you have any of the symptoms (source), it would not hurt to get checked out as well.
- Shortness of breath, wheezing, or hoarseness.
- A persistent cough that gets worse over time.
- Blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up from the lungs.
- Pain or tightening in the chest.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Swelling of the neck or face.
- Loss of appetite.
- Weight loss.
- Fatigue or anemia.
THIS story about Janelle’s journey really touched my heart. It is my hope that spreading the word will help prevent others from going through the same struggles.
Secondly, help spread the word! If we work together, we can fight and win!
For more information you can contact these agencies:
Education and Information Division
Information Resources Branch
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
4676 Columbia Parkway
Cincinnati, OH 45226
Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs
Employment Standards Administration
U.S. Department of Labor
Frances Perkins Building
200 Constitution Avenue, NW.
Washington, DC 20210
202–693–0040 (Federal Employees’ Compensation Program)
202–693–0038 (Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Program)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPA West Building
National Program Chemicals Division
Mail Code 7404T
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.
Washington, DC 20460
202–554–1404 (TSCA Hotline)
1–800–368–5888 (Asbestos Ombudsman)
Office of Information and Public Affairs
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814
Disclaimer: I am NOT a medical professional. The information presented above was found through my own personal research along with the fact page from Emily at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. If you have ANY questions or concerns PLEASE see your doctor!