It is well accepted in the medical community – and well documented by evidence – that both smoking and asbestos cause damage to the lungs. According to a recent article, there are some interesting relationships between smoking and asbestos exposure.
The article discusses two studies that analyzed whether people who smoked and were chronically exposed to asbestos at work faced higher risks of lung cancer:
One study from Great Britain analyzed the records of over 98,000 people who were chronically exposed to asbestos on the job from 1971 to 2005. During the study, 12% of the workers died as a result of lung cancer. After grouping workers according to their rates of exposure and smoking habits, researchers found that smokers had the highest rates of lung cancer – regardless of their asbestos-exposure levels. Workers who never smoked had the lowest levels of lung cancer. Researchers concluded that an estimated 26% of lung cancer deaths were caused – at least in part – by an interaction of asbestos and smoking.
A second study reviewed the medical records and lung health of over 2,300 workers in the insulation industry – manufacturing, installation, and removal – from 1981 through 2008. Researchers ultimately found that asbestos exposure increased the risk of lung cancer by 5.2-fold, smoking by 10.3, and both exposure and smoking by 28.4. Researchers also found that workers who had been in their positions for at least 10 years and quit smoking reduced their risk of lung cancer by half.
Both studies suggest that chronic asbestos exposure and smoking combined can substantially increase risks of lung cancer. It also suggests that quitting smoking may benefit workers who have been chronically exposed to asbestos fibers.
Given the prevalence of smoking during the time when asbestos was most widely used, our legal team at the Nemeroff Law Firm has seen and handled many cases involving smokers who were also chronically exposed to asbestos, many times while on the job. Their smoking habits, however, did not detract from the fact that asbestos is a harmful material and that they have legal rights to be fairly compensated for resulting damages associated with mesothelioma.
If you have questions about mesothelioma, your rights, or the rights of a loved one, contact our firm today for a FREE case review.