Mesothelioma Awareness Day for Veterans

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Health Editor’s Note: Please read and be advised that asbestos exposure continues to cause health issues in Veterans and anyone who has inhaled asbestos during working at jobs, living conditions, etc. This article comes to us from those who continue to fight the good fight against asbestos and the disease, mesothelioma, that it causes…Carol

Recognizing Our Military Veterans For Mesothelioma Awareness Day

Every year, nearly 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer. Of these new cases, 30 percent are diagnosed amongst our veteran population. September 26th marks the 16th annual celebration of Mesothelioma Awareness Day (MAD). This day highlights the advancements made in mesothelioma research, informs about the dangers of asbestos exposure, and provides information on groups affected, such as veterans. Not only does MAD create a platform for those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, but it also promotes the need for a full ban of asbestos so future diagnoses begin to decline.

Mesothelioma Cancer

While roughly 80 to 90 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses occur in the lining of the lungs, this disease can also affect the lining of the abdomen and heart. The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, a human carcinogen that has still not been fully banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). When asbestos fibers become airborne, they are easily ingestible and inhalable. These fibers enter the body and become lodged in the lining of our internal organs, where they begin to scar and inflame the body’s tissue. Over the course of 10 to 50 years, tumors develop, and the symptoms of mesothelioma begin to appear. Unfortunately, symptoms of this disease are minimal and because of this diagnoses typically happen at a later, more advanced stage.

Military Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos is known for its unmatched qualities, such as sound absorption and fire resistance. This made it a key component in the production of naval ships, military bases, as well as aircraft equipment. The height of asbestos usage was between 1920 and 1980, a prolonged period of time for exposure to occur amongst service men and women. As a result, there continues to be a consistent diagnosis rate amongst veterans. From sleeping barracks to military vehicles, asbestos was very prevalent, and fibers were readily available to those in the immediate area.

While asbestos regulations have tightened significantly, members of our military are still at risk of being exposed in areas beyond the confines of the United States. Some foreign territories may have no regulations on asbestos, meaning that homes and buildings in these areas could be harboring asbestos-containing materials, such as roofing shingles, floor tiles, insulation, and a variety of other products. If military members are stationed in these areas and war disrupts these properties, asbestos exposure could occur.

Monitor Your Health

Whether you are an active member of the military or a veteran, it is vital to monitor your health. Symptoms of mesothelioma can mimic other illnesses or may not present themselves at all. Some of the most common symptoms of mesothelioma are: coughing, unexplained weight loss, difficulty swallowing, chest pain, and fatigue. These symptoms may be difficult to discern from a less significant illness, which is why regular checkups are important. Doctors will be able to check for abnormalities by using CT scans, x rays, and MRI scans. Catching mesothelioma at an early stage is the most promising way to live a longer life.

Help Spread Awareness 

This Mesothelioma Awareness Day, spread information on the dangers of asbestos exposure, especially if you have a loved one that is active duty or a veteran. The more knowledge people have about asbestos, the less likely they are to become exposed to this carcinogen, decreasing the diagnosis rate. Mesothelioma is one of the only non-genetic cancers. It can truly become a disease of the past if we work together to limit exposure risks and push for a full ban of asbestos in the United States.

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