Does Being in the Military Put You at Risk for Mesothelioma?

Individuals living in all parts of the world view the United States military as a dominant force. Regardless of their rank or position, members of the Marines, Air Force, Army, Navy, and Coast Guard are treated with honor and respect. While most military members are aware of the dangers from enemy forces before entering the service, they may not be familiar with other, less common threats.

Mesothelioma, for example, is a chronic health condition diagnosed in a large number of current and force military members each year. Having a basic understanding of this condition and its link with the military is essential for individuals who are considering entering the armed forces.


What Is Mesothelioma?

Before one can study the link between military membership and the development of mesothelioma, they should have a solid understanding of the health condition itself. Mesothelioma is traditionally defined as a specific type of cancer that occurs in the mesothelium—or lining of the internal organs of the human body.

While mesothelioma can occur in various organs, it is most commonly found in the lungs, heart, stomach, and testes. This condition is thought to be caused by the inhalation of asbestos, though exposure to the toxin in other forms may also be associated with the development of the condition. Depending on the stage of the mesothelioma at its diagnosis, the prognosis for the condition can vary quite substantially.

Association Between Military Membership and Mesothelioma

So what exactly is the relationship between military membership and mesothelioma? Are individuals who work in the military more prone to the development of this condition? According to Military Benefits, there is a substantial link between military membership and mesothelioma diagnosis. This is especially true for individuals who were members of the armed forces between the 1930s and 1970s, as asbestos was commonly used by the organization for insulation purposes during this time. Individuals who served in the military during more recent periods may also be at risk for mesothelioma, especially if they worked in areas that required the operation of heavy-duty machinery.  Individuals who worked as automobile and airplane mechanics, machinists, or in other similar roles may face greater risks for mesothelioma diagnosis.

Managing Mesothelioma

While there is an association between military membership and mesothelioma, the development of the condition is not inevitable. In fact, through preparedness, current military members can avoid this condition altogether. Wearing proper types of safety gear—such as respirator masks—when exposed to high amounts of asbestos is one of the best ways to avoid this deadly condition. In addition, working in an area that offers high rates of ventilation can also be an effective way to lower the risk of mesothelioma.

Veterans or current military members who believe that they may have been exposed to asbestos may want to seek treatment from a qualified medical provider. As with many other chronic health conditions, the sooner the disorder can be identified, the better its prognosis.

It is essential to protect those who protect us. We, as a nation, must demand better protection and treatment for the brave men and women who sacrifice so much for our country. Do not let this issue go unnoticed. There are many veterans who now suffer from devastating conditions that could have been avoided, but are not yet being acknowledged or treated. It is a social and moral obligation to promote awareness and social action on this topic. It is crucial that those considering military membership are aware of the potential risks and are better equipped to avoid detrimental consequences.


SimplyLili is a PhD student in Social Psychology and an avid blogger. Her main goal is to bring awareness to issues that warrant social responsibility and action. She is a self-proclaimed nerd and her 3 fave things are cheesecake, rainy days, and pugs. "Knowledge-Simply"

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