The deadly cancer mesothelioma, which is caused by exposure to asbestos, has taken the life of another man.
John Blake, of Seaford, U.K., was 86 at the time of his death from the asbestos cancer. Having worked for over a decade in a London factory where tanks and pressure vessels were built, Blake was likely exposed to asbestos on the job. This mineral material, once heralded as a miracle product, was used in any application where heat, fire, or electrical shocks may have been a risk. It has been a component of thousands of different kinds of products, from ceiling tiles to electrical wiring.
After leaving the firm, Blake then worked at Ford Motors, which may also have been a source of his asbestos exposure, since asbestos was widely used in the automotive industry as well.
Mesothelioma occurs when the microscopic fibers that make up asbestos become airborne and are inhaled. They embed themselves into the soft tissues surrounding the lungs and other organs called the mesothelium and cause the cells’ DNA to change, leading to the formation of malignancies.
The most common form of mesothelioma is malignant pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lungs. The cancer can also strike the heart and stomach, however. Regardless of its location, this is an aggressive and fatal disease. It usually claims its victims within 18 months of diagnosis, and can be an extremely painful way to die.
Approximately 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United States annually, with similar numbers recorded in the U.K.
Because mesothelioma may develop within the body but not become symptomatic for years, it may be difficult to track down the specific site of exposure to asbestos. Nevertheless, more and more people diagnosed with this disease are successfully bringing lawsuits against manufacturers of asbestos products.