Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that often develops in either the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. In 2017, the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) reported that up to 2800 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each and every year. This deadly disease is often contracted after being exposed to asbestos but symptoms can take 20-50 years to fully develop.

Understanding the risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing mesothelioma can help you obtain a quicker diagnosis. 

While some early research has highlighted possible factors like genes that may predispose certain individuals to cancer development or possible exposures in some common medical procedures, these are very preliminary correlations and should not be considered as indisputable fact.

Mesothelioma Risk Factors Include Working at Shipyards

The top risk factors you should be aware of and learn more about include contact with asbestos, smoking, age, and gender.

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Exposure to asbestos is the leading risk factor for developing Mesothelioma. Most Louisiana sufferers who have been exposed to asbestos were exposed while on the job. After all, the material was previously used heavily in construction, factories, plumbing, shipbuilding, and the automotive industry, along with several other professions. It was often favored by builders and contractors due to asbestos being both fire and heat-resistant.

Over time, it was discovered that asbestos fibers flying through the air were being inhaled into the lungs of those in the close vicinity of the work area. The fibers then stay there in the body and cause damage to the cells which results in Mesothelioma, or lung cancer.

A surprising number of items in our everyday lives still contain these fibers from years past, but they are usually safe until disturbed. It has happened that even in places that may not usually require safety precautions, people have been exposed due to construction or other activities that propel these fibers into the air.

Today, asbestos has been largely removed from production of most items because of the information available now on its relation to causing cancer in the lungs. However, for millions of Americans it is too late. Exposure to this serious and harmful substance is deadly.


While smoking is not necessarily linked to the development of mesothelioma, smokers who have also been exposed to asbestos have a much higher chance of developing mesothelioma and lung cancer.

In fact, smokers have up to 90% higher chance of developing asbestos related lung cancer and nearly double the risk of developing mesothelioma. If you have been exposed to asbestos, it is highly recommended that you quit smoking as soon as possible.

How does smoking contribute to asbestos-related mesothelioma?

  • Smoking inhibits your body’s ability to keep the lungs clear by damaging cilia. This damage makes it more difficult for your body to expel pollutants, such as asbestos
  • Smoking increases the buildup of scar tissue in your lungs and changes how your lungs react to the asbestos. The development of additional scar tissue could accelerate the onset of mesothelioma or asbestos related cancers.


Young people very rarely are diagnosed with Mesothelioma. The typical age is 65 or older. For people under 45, it hardly ever occurs. The risk increases with age mainly because the disease usually takes many years to become detected.

As you get older, symptoms of mesothelioma begin to appear. Unfortunately, these symptoms are often brushed off as age-related. If you know that you have been exposed to asbestos, alert your doctor immediately if you notice any signs of mesothelioma.


Statistically speaking, men are more likely than women to develop Mesothelioma. The main reason for this is because most asbestos exposure occurred in blue-collar, male-dominated workplace settings. As a result, men are often more likely to be able to pinpoint exactly where they were exposed to asbestos and which company is liable.

However, women are often diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases because they have come in contact with the fibers through the work clothing or other surfaces used by men in their lives who were exposed in the workplace. This secondary exposure sometimes means that they will have a slightly better prognosis than men, but it also means that proving liability is more difficult.

Secondary Factors

There are secondary factors that can increase an individual’s risk of getting mesothelioma. These factors are less common but they include:

  • Exposure to radiation
  • Exposure to Zeolite
  • Exposure to the Simian Virus 40
  • Exposure to Erionite
  • Smoking Lorillard Tobacco Company cigarettes from 1952 to 1956 which contained asbestos in the filters

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Do any of these risk factors apply to you or someone close to you? If so, it is best to undergo testing just to be sure.

This is not to say that these are the only risk factors, but they have been identified as primary causes. Unfortunately, many Mesothelioma cases could have been prevented by organizations taking greater precautions.

If you have any questions regarding your legal rights related to Mesothelioma, you can speak to our knowledgeable attorneys at Landry & Swarr by calling (504) 299-1214 today.