Inhaling asbestos causes the vast majority of mesothelioma cases in the United States. As a result, it is the cancer most closely associated with asbestos exposure. But it may surprise you to learn that the first cancer linked to asbestos exposure was, in fact, lung cancer.

Our lawyers will discuss how it became known that asbestos causes lung cancer and give an overview of the legal help the O’Brien Law Firm provides.

Asbestos and Lung Cancer History

Lung cancer was first linked to asbestos exposure by doctors in the 1930s.

S R. Gloyne published The morbid anatomy and histology of asbestosis (1933), which discussed a case of squamous cell lung cancer in a patient with asbestosis. There were further reports, which include:

Later, in the German study Lungenkrebs durch Asbeststaub im Tierversuch (1941) by M. Nordmann and A. Sorge, asbestos was described as “the occupational cancer of asbestos workers.”

By the early 1940s, the association between lung cancer and asbestos inhalation was well accepted by physicians in the United States. This medical link was discussed in widely published medical journals and the subject of worried discussion amongst companies in the asbestos business. These companies and their insurers quickly worked to suppress widespread knowledge of this risk.

Asbestos, Smoking, and Lung Cancer

Both asbestos and smoking independently cause lung cancer. In combination, they create an even greater risk of lung cancer development.

The landmark study Asbestos exposure, cigarette smoking and death rates (1979) by E.C. Hammond, I.J. Selikoff I.J., and H. Seidman reported that:

  • smoking alone increased the risk of developing lung cancer by about 10-fold, compared to those who never smoked.
  • asbestos exposure alone increased the risk of developing lung cancer by about 5-fold, compared to those who were never exposed to asbestos.
  • when combined, smoking and asbestos exposure increased the risk of developing lung cancer by about 50-fold, compared with that of the nonsmokers who were never exposed to asbestos.

The recently published study Asbestos, Smoking and Lung Cancer: An Update (2020) by Sonja Klebe, James Leigh, Douglas W. Henderson, and Markku Nurminen updates the scientific literature concerning asbestos and lung cancer, reaffirming the well-accepted role asbestos plays in lung cancer development.

Asbestos Lung Cancer Cases at the O’Brien Law Firm

If you were meaningfully exposed to asbestos and developed lung cancer, you may have a valuable claim for compensation, even if you smoked.

At the O’Brien Law Firm, we have found the vast majority of our lung cancer clients smoked cigarettes at one point in time. While it is true that smoking is a well-accepted cause of lung cancer, a history of smoking should not prevent meaningful compensation in an asbestos lung cancer case, particularly if the history of smoking is remote or the tell-tale signs of emphysema or smoker’s lung are absent.

In evaluating asbestos lung cancer cases, our lawyers look for:

  • pathological confirmation of the lung cancer via biopsy or autopsy.
  • a reliable material and provable history of exposure to asbestos.
  • objective medical evidence of asbestos inhalation. This is through the presence of calcified pleural plaques on radiology or in pathology materials, asbestos fibers present in lung pathology, or reliable evidence of a confirmed diagnosis of pulmonary asbestosis.

Speak With a Lawyer

The O’Brien Law Firm has represented many lung cancer victims over the past 20 years. While each case depends entirely upon its own unique facts, our lawyers have been able to obtain large settlements in certain lung cancer cases, topping the $1,000,000 and even the $2,000,000 threshold.

If you are seeking fair compensation and have questions about lung cancer and asbestos, contact a lawyer at The O’Brien Law Firm today!