Asbestos was heavily used during the 20th century in various industries, mostly construction and manufacturing of automobiles and ships. Bringing the substance into a new sector, Kent, an American cigarette brand, introduced a new version of cigarettes with a micronite filter in the 1950s.
Unbeknownst to the consumer, the micronite filter contained crocidolite asbestos until at least 1956.
Examining Kent’s Asbestos Cigarettes
In an article published by the American Association for Cancer Research, experts studied brand new, unopened packs of cigarettes produced and distributed by Kent during the 1950s.
The study found approximately 10 milligrams of crocidolite asbestos in one cigarette filter. Asbestos fibers were detected in the smoke from the first two puffs of each cigarette. At these reported rates, anyone smoking a pack of Kent Micronite cigarettes a day would inhale more than 131 million asbestos fibers in one year – that’s over 350,000 asbestos fibers in one day.
These findings are shocking, especially with the amount of asbestos estimated to enter the body over the course of one year. Of note, the Occupational Safety and Health Association states there is no safe level of asbestos exposure, and any level of exposure should be taken very seriously.
Fortunately, these cigarettes are no longer on the market; however, consumers who purchased these cigarettes while they were on the market are not safe from mesothelioma or asbestos diseases.
Health Risks Associated With Kent’s Micronite Cigarettes
There are many health risks associated with asbestos exposure – let alone directly inhaling hundreds of thousands of asbestos fibers in a day. Inhaling (breathing in) or ingesting (swallowing) asbestos fibers can lead to serious health problems, or even cancer. Victims of asbestos exposure are at-risk for several types of cancer.
Mesothelioma is one of the cancer risks victims of asbestos exposure face. This type of cancer is caused only by exposure to asbestos and is extremely rare and aggressive. Mesothelioma is diagnosed less than 3,000 times each year in the United States.
Smoking Kent’s micronite cigarettes can lead to mesothelioma solely for the fact that asbestos was present in the filters. Inhaling microscopic, needle-like asbestos fibers can cause the sharp fibers to become stuck in the chest lining (pleura). Once the fibers are lodged in the pleura, they cause irritation that can lead to mesothelioma tumor development.
Unfortunately, mesothelioma can take between 20-50 years to develop or show mild symptoms. Often, mesothelioma patients show signs or symptoms that can be associated with other common illnesses, such as a common cold or flu, which can lead to misdiagnosis.
Once a patient is diagnosed, they do not typically have a long-term life expectancy. Combining the aggressive nature of mesothelioma and common symptoms, patients are often diagnosed when their cancer is in advanced stages. This can make treatment of mesothelioma challenging as doctors factor in patient quality of life and treatment effectiveness. Sometimes, the risks outweigh the benefits.
As previously mentioned, Kent cigarettes contained asbestos until 1956, which means consumers have most likely been diagnosed with or have died from an asbestos disease, like mesothelioma, or their body got rid of the fibers before they could develop into cancer.
It’s extremely important to be aware of where asbestos is hiding to protect yourself but also know your options if you are exposed.
Lung cancer is another big risk for victims of Kent’s micronite cigarettes. Smoking cigarettes is known to cause lung cancer, but the danger significantly increased when Kent chose to include asbestos in its cigarettes.
Asbestos causes an estimated 7,000-11,000 new cases of lung cancer in the U.S. each year. Asbestos lung cancer has no medical difference from lung cancer. The only distinction is what led to the lung cancer diagnosis.
Similar to mesothelioma, inhaling sharp asbestos fibers can cause the fibers to embed into the outer layer of the lung tissue. If the asbestos fibers bury into the lung tissue, they can cause severe irritation and possibly the formation of a lung cancer tumor.
Lung cancer is one of the most common and most deadly types of cancer. Unlike mesothelioma, there are lung cancer screening tests available to the public. With lung cancer screening, there is an increased chance of early diagnosis, which can lead to a hopeful prognosis.
With any type of cancer, the prognosis depends on the stage of diagnosis. Non-small cell lung cancer has an overall five-year survival rate of 26%. If the patient is diagnosed in early stages (stage 1 or stage 2) and begins treatment right away, the 5-year survival rate is much higher than advanced stage patients.
A diagnosis of mesothelioma or lung cancer can be devastating to a patient and their loved ones. The news can be even more upsetting if the cancer was caused by corporate negligence – asbestos in Kent Cigarettes. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos cancer or disease and you smoked Kent’s micronite cigarettes between 1952 and 1956, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
Many large corporations are at-fault for causing asbestos diseases due to their reckless use of asbestos and negligence to inform consumers. These corporations need to be held responsible for their actions. Contact an experienced mesothelioma attorney to learn about your options as an asbestos exposure victim.
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