Healthcare Technology Featured Article

October 25, 2022

The Role of Iron in Asbestos-Related Diseases

The human body requires iron to perform essential biological functions. In fact, iron is a core component of enzymes and proteins.

However, iron is also a potentially toxic trace element. For example, lungs chronically exposed to asbestos have shown signs of increased iron levels(1).

 Asbestos is a potent cancer-inducing substance or agent linked with lung cancer and aggressive mesothelioma(2).

Mesothelioma, a type of cancer affecting the exterior lining of the heart, abdomen, and lungs, can develop years after asbestos exposure(3).

A study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health mentioned that 12,000 to 15,000 Americans die yearly from asbestos exposure(4). Asbestos also results in innumerable cases of disability and diseases. 

Believing that asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma,’s advocacy is to provide comprehensive, caring support for individuals with mesothelioma and their loved ones.  

What is the role of iron in asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma? Are iron issues the most common causes of such illnesses?

Read on to learn more about the examples of asbestos-related diseases, how iron affects and triggers such conditions, and ways to avoid them.

Iron: How Does It Cause and Affect Asbestos-Related Diseases?

Asbestos can induce cancer formation in the lining covering the outside of particular organs. This process may happen as the asbestos fiber directly damages the cells in the area and possibly causes malignant mesothelioma (MM).

A study indicated that local iron overload is critical for initiating and advancing malignant mesothelioma(5).

Iron-coated asbestos fibers may operate like a sharp knife to break double-stranded DNA in living cells. Extended iron deposition in these cells may induce stress, leading to cancer formation(6).

Asbestos is known to bind iron to the cell surfaces of human cells, causing the iron in specific tissue regions to change.

In addition, asbestos fibers have the natural ability to attract iron from the environment. Many specialists regard this characteristic as an essential factor in the toxicity of asbestos.

Examples of Asbestos-Related Diseases

Asbestos exposure can raise your risk of getting(7):

  • Asbestosis, a condition that can cause long-term lung damage
  • Mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the stomach and chest lining
  • Lung cancer
  • Lung lining scarring
  • Cancer of the kidney, gastrointestinal tract, and throat
  • Pleural effusions, when fluid accumulates around the lungs

How to Avoid Asbestos-Related Diseases

Only airborne asbestos is dangerous(8).

Today, you may find asbestos in many items, including building materials. These procedures may help prevent the release of asbestos into the air.

There is little to no risk that such products will negatively influence your health. However, try not to scratch, tear, damage, or crumble the material. These movements could spread the fibers throughout the air.

Moreover, leaving asbestos-containing materials in your home alone is better if they are in good shape. You risk releasing the fibers into the air if you touch or disturb the material.

Furthermore, have asbestos-based materials periodically checked for damage or deterioration. The material is safe when it is intact.

An expert should take a sample of the crumbling material and examine it if you detect it. You will need to have the damaged asbestos material removed or fixed.

The goal of repair is to stop the leakage of asbestos fibers into the atmosphere. Seek the help of an expert to repair or remove the asbestos.

Never attempt to do it yourself. Incorrect handling of asbestos might pose a greater health risk than leaving the substance alone.

Moreover, smoking raises the risk of lung cancer in those exposed to asbestos since asbestos-related diseases have lung-related effects. Smoking should be avoided at all costs by those exposed to asbestos.

When handling asbestos-containing products, people risk bringing fibers home on their skin, clothing, shoes, and hair.

You may also wonder whether you contribute to the family members' health risks increase because of your asbestos exposure.

In that case, most professions using asbestos materials ensure that employees change when they come and go to reduce this risk.

Other workplaces also provide showers for employees to wash off dirt from their skin and hair.

Trained staff members wearing protective clothing may clean contaminated clothing. These precautions lessen the likelihood that family members will become unwell.

Suppose you and your family experience asbestos exposure at work. In that case, you can discuss further safety precautions with your healthcare provider.

You may ask your healthcare provider the following questions if you work in a field that uses asbestos:

  • How can I reduce my risk of asbestos-related disease?
  • Should I be tested or monitored regularly?
  • Do you need to take any drugs or other preventive measures?
  • How can I shield my family from diseases brought on by asbestos?
  • What should I do if I start to have symptoms?

Final Statement

Consult your healthcare provider if you think you may have experienced asbestos exposure at work.

Asbestos can bring about numerous illnesses, including mesothelioma, a rare malignancy, and lung cancer.

The symptoms may not appear for decades after the exposure. Even if you feel fine, consult a healthcare professional so you can take precautions and lower your health risks.

If you have an asbestos-related health issue, your healthcare practitioner will assist you in getting the proper care.


1. Iron mediated toxicity and programmed cell death: A review and a re-examination of existing paradigms

2. The interaction of asbestos and iron in lung tissue revealed by synchrotron-based scanning X-ray microscopy

3. Mesothelioma

4. Toward an Asbestos Ban in the United States 

5. Iron overload as a major targetable pathogenesis of asbestos-induced mesothelial carcinogenesis

6. Ibid.

7. Asbestos Exposure and Your Health

8. Ibid.

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