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Frequently Asked Questions: Information for Families

I have been a smoker for over 20 years. Can smoking cause me to get mesothelioma or increase my chances of getting the disease?

Mesothelioma typically occurs in individuals who have been exposed to asbestos by virtue of the jobs they have worked on. The incubation or “latency” period, the period of time between the initial exposure to asbestos and when the first symptoms appear, can take up to 50 years. You can also develop the disease because of second-hand exposure. This means that if someone in the household is exposed to asbestos on the job, they may bring home the dust particles and fibers of the material and expose you to them.

Additionally, the person who launders the individual’s clothing is exposed to asbestos dust particles and fiber, putting him or her at risk of eventually developing mesothelioma as well. As it currently stands, there is no documented evidence to support any association between smoking and mesothelioma. However, if you are a smoker, you are greatly at risk of developing lung cancer.

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