Study Reveals Chemical Processes Triggered by Asbestos

Research & Clinical Trials
Reading Time: 2 mins
Publication Date: 03/07/2011
Fact Checked
Our fact-checking process begins with a thorough review of all sources to ensure they are high quality. Then we cross-check the facts with original medical or scientific reports published by those sources, or we validate the facts with reputable news organizations, medical and scientific experts and other health experts. Each page includes all sources for full transparency.
Reviewed

Asbestos.com is the nation’s most trusted mesothelioma resource

The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com has provided patients and their loved ones the most updated and reliable information on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure since 2006.

Our team of Patient Advocates includes a medical doctor, a registered nurse, health services administrators, veterans, VA-accredited Claims Agents, an oncology patient navigator and hospice care expert. Their combined expertise means we help any mesothelioma patient or loved one through every step of their cancer journey.

More than 30 contributors, including mesothelioma doctors, survivors, health care professionals and other experts, have peer-reviewed our website and written unique research-driven articles to ensure you get the highest-quality medical and health information.

About The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com

  • Assisting mesothelioma patients and their loved ones since 2006.
  • Helps more than 50% of mesothelioma patients diagnosed annually in the U.S.
  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
  • 5-star reviewed mesothelioma and support organization.
Learn More About Us

Testimonials

"My family has only the highest compliment for the assistance and support that we received from The Mesothelioma Center. This is a staff of compassionate and knowledgeable individuals who respect what your family is experiencing and who go the extra mile to make an unfortunate diagnosis less stressful. Information and assistance were provided by The Mesothelioma Center at no cost to our family."
Lashawn
Mesothelioma patient’s daughter
  • Google Review Rating
  • BBB Review Rating

How to Cite Asbestos.com’s Article

APA

Whitmer, M. (2020, October 16). Study Reveals Chemical Processes Triggered by Asbestos. Asbestos.com. Retrieved October 4, 2022, from https://www.asbestos.com/news/2011/03/07/mesothelioma-study-reveals-chemical-processes-triggered-by-asbestos/

MLA

Whitmer, Michelle. "Study Reveals Chemical Processes Triggered by Asbestos." Asbestos.com, 16 Oct 2020, https://www.asbestos.com/news/2011/03/07/mesothelioma-study-reveals-chemical-processes-triggered-by-asbestos/.

Chicago

Whitmer, Michelle. "Study Reveals Chemical Processes Triggered by Asbestos." Asbestos.com. Last modified October 16, 2020. https://www.asbestos.com/news/2011/03/07/mesothelioma-study-reveals-chemical-processes-triggered-by-asbestos/.

As an established carcinogen, asbestos poses a number of serious health risks. While it is a prominent factor in asbestosis, one of the most aggressive illnesses associated with the mineral is pleural mesothelioma, a cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs. An Italian study led by Lorella Pascolo implemented synchrotron soft X-ray imaging and X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) microscopy to examine the chemical makeup of the affected area. The study also revealed potential ways these chemicals could dictate the body’s reaction to foreign asbestos fibers.

While researchers have linked asbestos to malignant mesothelioma for quite some time, the exact way the fibers cause the cancer to develop remains unclear. The imaging techniques used in the study boast a higher probing depth than previously used techniques, revealing deeply-buried matter that optical or electron microscopes could not locate. This procedure provides a more comprehensive chemical analysis of fibers and the internal reaction mechanisms that occur once the fibers begin to damage lung tissue.

Medical professionals believe the body creates a casing around a lodged fiber to isolate the asbestos from the tissue, collectively called an “asbestos body” by scientists. This is presumed to be a protective mechanism. The experiment, which sought to differentiate between the fibers and the casing, measured the silicon, iron, oxygen and magnesium content in the samples. The fibers themselves tested high in silicon, while the coating had notably elevated magnesium, iron and oxygen content.

The tissue surrounding the asbestos body was also shown to have higher iron and magnesium levels than completely unaffected tissue. Researchers then inferred that iron may evoke oxidative stress that leads to cellular damage, while magnesium may trigger the formation of shells around the inhaled fibers.

The study additionally indicated the presence of these metals in asbestos fibers may be responsible for their carcinogenic nature. Crocidolite and amosite fibers — the two most carcinogenic forms of asbestos — contain up to 30 percent iron by weight. While not yet confirmed, it has been suggested that iron-rich proteins resulting from the lodged asbestos fiber could increase DNA damage that leads to cancerous mutations.

Researchers hope to use the results of this study to further clarify the role of chemical elements in the development of mesothelioma cancer. The XRF procedure and the information it yields is expected to advance cellular-level investigations of mesothelioma, while the new understandings of the body’s reaction to asbestos may lead to the eventual development of more effective treatments.

Connect with a Mesothelioma Doctor
Find a Top Specialist Near You