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This article debunks five common mesothelioma myths. These myths include:

  1. There is only one form of Mesothelioma
  2. Smoking Causes Mesothelioma
  3. Mesothelioma Diagnosis is Exclusive to Individuals 65 and Older
  4. Mesothelioma is Contagious
  5. Asbestos is Illegal In the United States
Mesothelioma myths graphic

Mesothelioma Myth 1: There is only one form of Mesothelioma

False. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that targets the mesothelial cells. According to the City of Hope Cancer Center, there are four forms: pleural, pericardial, peritoneal, and testicular. The most common form is Pleural mesothelioma which affects the tissue lining of the lungs. The second most common is Peritoneal mesothelioma which interferes with the tissue lining of the abdomen. The third type is recognized as Pericardial mesothelioma and is a rarer form of the disease. It attacks the tissue lining of the heart and only accounts for a small percentage of all total mesothelioma cases. The last and rarest form is Testicular Mesothelioma, which affects the tissue lining of the testicles.

Mesothelioma Myth 2: Smoking Causes Mesothelioma

False. Most individuals who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma have experienced asbestos exposure. Therefore, there is no scientific evidence that smoking causes mesothelioma. However, inhaling or ingesting harmful doses of smoke can lead to lung cancer, which is the reasoning for this association, as most mesothelioma cases occur in the lungs. The only scientifically supported connection between smoking and mesothelioma rests in the flare up of symptoms when individuals simultaneously engage in smoking habits while having mesothelioma (Klebe et al.).

Mesothelioma Myth 3: Mesothelioma Diagnosis is Exclusive to Individuals 65 and Older

False. While it is often reported that mesothelioma diagnoses are more common among individuals aged 65 and older, it is important to mention that individuals of younger ages can also be diagnosed.  The reasoning for this belief is the long latency period associated with mesothelioma symptoms. The challenge rests in detecting the disease before the presence of the symptoms which can include shortness of breath, chest pain, and weight loss. The percentage of individuals 65 and younger who are diagnosed with mesothelioma is very small, but still exists. According to the National Library of Medicine, out of a study of 12,345 patients, only 1.5% were 40 and younger (Thomas et al.).

Mesothelioma Myth 4: Mesothelioma is a Contagious Disease

False. The only scientifically proven cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. This rules out the cause of germs and bacteria as a source. Mesothelioma attacks the tissue lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart, and testicles. Although the disease can spread rapidly throughout the body, it cannot be exposed through human contact, like other cancers.

Mesothelioma Myth 5: Asbestos is Illegal in the United States

False. The mining of asbestos in the United States was last seen in 2002, however, the import of the mineral is still legal and active in many products. While 60 countries have banned the mineral, the United States has not fully restricted the use of asbestos. Unfortunately, the only legislative acts that are present reference the awareness of the product in buildings and materials but do not prohibit it. As of 2024, there is an active Ban-Asbestos Now Act, under the Toxic Substances Control Act, that is actively working to remove and discontinue the import of all six types of asbestos fibers from the United States.

Under public belief, these five mesothelioma myths can pose risk and harm. The Halpern Law firm is committed to accuracy and unbiased information. If you or someone you know has been affected by asbestos exposure or mesothelioma in the state of Pennsylvania, please visit The Halpern Law firm for a free consultation or call (800) 505-6000 to turn today’s adversity into tomorrow’s justice.


“Text – H.R.2402 – 118th Congress (2023-2024): Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2023.” Congress.gov, 2023, www.congress.gov/bill/118th-congress/house-bill/2402/text. Accessed 12 Feb. 2024.

corecubed. “10 Myths about Mesothelioma and Asbestos – At-Home Care Company.” At-Home Care Company, 19 June 2020, athomecarecompany.com/10-myths-mesothelioma/. Accessed 12 Feb. 2024.

Thomas, Anish, et al. “Distinctive Clinical Characteristics of Malignant Mesothelioma in Young Patients.” Oncotarget, vol. 6, no. 18, Impact Journals LLC, June 2015, pp. 16766–73, https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.4414. Accessed 12 Feb. 2024.

“Types of Mesothelioma: Common, Rare and More.” City of Hope, 12 Sept. 2022, www.cancercenter.com/cancer-types/mesothelioma/types. Accessed 7 Feb. 2024.

‌ Klebe, Sonja, et al. “Asbestos, Smoking and Lung Cancer: An Update.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 17, no. 1, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, Dec. 2019, pp. 258–58, https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17010258. Accessed 7 Feb. 2024.

Wright, Laura. “10 Myths and Misconceptions about Mesothelioma and Asbestos.” MesotheliomaHope.com, 12 Dec. 2023, www.mesotheliomahope.com/blog/10-mesothelioma-myths-and-misconceptions/. Accessed 5 Feb. 2024.

‌ https://www.facebook.com/MesotheliomaGuide. “14 Myths about Mesothelioma. 14 Explanations Why They’re Inaccurate.” Mesothelioma Guide, 12 Dec. 2022, www.mesotheliomaguide.com/community/mesothelioma-myths/. Accessed 5 Feb. 2024.

Written By Ashley Navarrete

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Page Reviewed and Edited by
Dave Halpern, Mesothelioma Attorney

Dave Halpern is a Pennsylvania and New Jersey mesothelioma attorney with over 30 years of experience. He has investigated hundreds of cases and won numerous multimillion dollar settlements and verdicts for asbestos victims. Dave prides himself on working tirelessly to help his clients in their time of need. 

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