An anonymous donor recently gave $3.58 million to University of Hawaii Cancer Center researchers to try to figure out how asbestos triggers mesothelioma, a deadly and incurable form of cancer.

Mesothelioma Lawyers hope that the research helps to determine how exposure to asbestos, a natural mineral that was used for decades in the United States to insulate houses and manufacture products, causes mesothelioma. Often, a mesothelioma diagnosis is the result of exposure that could have been prevented.

According to, researchers have made some significant scientific breakthroughs in their understanding of how asbestos causes the cancer.

What we already know is that microscopic asbestos fibers can be inhaled or otherwise ingested into the body before traveling through the bloodstream and attaching to the walls of major organs, such as the heart and lungs. There they stay for sometimes 30 to 40 years before a person is diagnosed with mesothelioma. And once a diagnosis is made, the median survival is only 12 months.

According to the Mesothelioma Cancer Network, here are some common mesothelioma symptoms:

  • Persistent cough without phlegm
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Inexplicable weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating or fever
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lumps under the skin on the chest

What the Hawaii researchers have found over a decade of research is that asbestos kills cells through a process called cell necrosis that leads to the release of a protein molecule HMGB1. People exposed to asbestos have elevated levels of the protein in their blood and the protein begins a chain reaction in tissue that causes the release of mutagens that promote tumor growth.

Cancer often occurs in the presence of chronic inflammation, so by interfering with the reaction, it may be possible to decrease occurrence of mesothelioma. The research is being conducted in a region of Turkey called Cappadocia, where nearly 50 percent of residents die of mesothelioma from exposure to eronite, a mined fiber that is more toxic than asbestos. Eronite has been used in the United States in road paving. Researchers hope to conduct a clinical trial in Cappadocia in an effort to identify people who are likely to develop mesothelioma based on elevated biomarkers, thereby blocking chronic inflammation which could reduce the risk of mesothelioma among workers exposed to asbestos.

The area sounds similar to Libby, Montana, where from 1919 to 1990, miners pulled vermiculite, some of which contained asbestos, and shipped it to plants throughout the country, where other workers manufactured insulation, floor and ceiling tiles and other products. In Libby, thousands have gone ill and hundreds have died after being exposed to asbestos. The Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog has outlined many cities across the country that have been exposed to this deadly mineral.

Between 2,500 and 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year and so it is important to hold accountable those who knew about deadly asbestos exposure and still used it in their buildings and products.

Frequently Asked Questions: Mesothelioma & Asbestos

  • What is asbestos?
  • Why is asbestos dangerous?
  • What are asbestos-related diseases?
  • What causes mesothelioma?
  • What are the different types of mesothelioma?
  • What are common mesothelioma symptoms?
  • Do I qualify for compensation if I have mesothelioma?
  • What is the life expectancy for someone with mesothelioma?
  • Do I qualify for compensation if I have mesothelioma?

The Ferraro Law Firm provides comprehensive legal services, including mesothelioma legal help. Call (888) 554-2030 for a free and confidential consultation. Offices in Miami, Washington, D.C., and New York City.

More Blog Entries:

Public Health Hazard Due to Asbestos Exposure in Libby Still Prevalent: June 15, 2011