Asbestos Exposure and Tobacco Smoking
The Deadliest Combination
Smoking cigarettes is by far the leading risk factor for contracting lung cancer. Indeed, more than 80 percent of all lung cancers are thought to originate from smoking. The American Cancer Society, for example, says 87 percent of lung cancers are directly related to smoking cigarettes. Research shows that tobacco smokers are 11 times more prone to suffer from lung cancer than non-smokers. That compares with a typical asbestos worker, who is seven times more likely to die of lung cancer than someone who never worked with the deadly fiber.
But what are the chances of dying from lung cancer if you worked in dangerous asbestos occupations and smoked cigarettes? Is there an increased risk of lung cancer when an asbestos worker is also a cigarette smoker?
The answer is an emphatic Yes! Asbestos workers who also smoke cigarettes are much more likely to die from lung cancer than someone who was exposed to only one of these threats, according to Weitz & Luxenberg, the New York-based law firm with the most national experience representing asbestos-related lung cancer victims. Weitz & Luxenberg does not represent tobacco victims, but specializes in asbestos-related lung cancer cases and has an impressive track record in winning large settlements and verdicts against employers who negligently exposed their workers to asbestos.
The courts currently recognize that asbestos workers who also smoke are 55 times more likely to get lung cancer than non-asbestos workers who do not smoke. And the likelihood of contracting lung cancer jumps to 100 times if an asbestos worker has a history of smoking a pack or more a day!
Workers exposed to asbestos, whether they smoke or not, have the greatest risk of developing "mesothelioma," a cancer that originates in the outer surface of the lung and is considered the deadliest form of asbestos-related lung cancer. Being diagnosed with mesothelioma is a death sentence that usually occurs swiftly (within months) for its victims. Approximately 2,500 people die of mesothelioma in the United States every year.