Although the link between asbestos and cancer has been clear for some time, researchers have recently discovered why asbestos is so dangerous to the body. According to new research from the Swiss National Science Foundation, the reason asbestos is so dangerous is that chronic exposure leads to a type of tissue repair, which causes the immune system to weaken, making it too weak to combat tumor formation. This can lead to mesothelioma, a very specific type of lung cancer that is only caused by exposure to asbestos.

The study explained that asbestos passes through the lungs and surrounds all of the internal organs. The body cannot clear the fibers, causing them to remain stuck and creating tissue injury, which can lead to cancer. The injuries trigger an immune reaction, causing inflammatory signals to be sent out and mobilizing white blood cells. Since repair pathways are activated, cells proliferate, and the growth of tumors is more likely. In addition, the researchers found asbestos leads to an increase in RNA mutations, which they believe may attenuate the tissue repair immune response.

According to the research:

The fact that asbestos causes cancer has been largely undisputed for nearly 50 years. Now, researchers supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) have discovered why the fibres cause such damage to the body. “Chronic exposure to asbestos triggers a type of tissue repair,” says Emanuela Felley-Bosco, who led the study. “The immune system goes out of balance and is no longer strong enough to combat tumour formation.”

The research was conducted on mice by injecting asbestos fibers into their abdominal cavity. Additional research has shown that data from gene banks showed that tumors from patients with poor outcomes can lead to an increase in the enzyme that causes the RNA mutations.

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