New Study Finds Link Between Mesothelioma Risk and Genetics

There has been ongoing research by geneticists and oncologists into the role that genetics may play in the development of mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, and how this information can help in creating a personalized treatment plan for victims to help prolong their survival rates. One recent study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, has uncovered a possible link between carrying a particular genetic mutation and the risk of developing mesothelioma, especially if the person has been exposed to asbestos fibers.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Hawaii, found that people who inherit a pair of mutated genes (referred to as BLM genes) are more likely to develop mesothelioma. Individuals who have the BLM gene are at a higher risk of developing Bloom Syndrome. Some of the characteristics people with this syndrome have include being short in height, a rash over their cheeks and nose, and immune deficiency. About one in 900 people who have Bloom Syndrome have only one of the mutated BLM genes, producing only half the normal amount of protein provided by BLM, increasing their risk of developing certain types of cancer.

Another prior study conducted by the lead researcher of this study found that mutations to the BAP1 gene could also lead to an increased risk of developing cancer. This study team has been awarded a grant to continue this research into the BLM mutation in individuals who have a risk of exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly type of cancer that affects the linings of tissue that surround the lungs, heart, and abdominal area and has a direct correlation to asbestos exposure. There is a 15-to-60-year latency period before victims begin to suffer symptoms of the disease, leaving them with little in the way of treatment options. This is no cure for this type of cancer.

Asbestos was used extensively in railroad yards and engine rooms, leaving railroad workers exposed day after day, year after year, to these deadly asbestos fibers. For decades, companies knew of the risk to workers’ health, yet continued to use the deadly material, failing to warn or protect railroad workers about the dangers.

While there is nothing that can be done to reverse the damage and harm of this exposure and the resulting mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers and diseases, current and former railroad workers – and their families if the worker has died from the disease – may be entitled to financial compensation under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA).

Contact a Virginia FELA Lawyer

If you are a current or former railroad worker and have been diagnosed with any type of asbestos-related cancer or disease, contact a Virginia FELA attorney to find out what legal recourse you may have against the railroads under FELA.

If you are a family member whose loved one has died from asbestos-related cancer, our law firm can also help. At Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn, we have extensive legal experience advocating for railroad workers and their families. Call our firm today to find out how we can help your family get the legal and financial justice you deserve.



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