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Camp Lejeune Marines have a 40% higher risk of developing lung cancer

As the leading cause of cancer death worldwide, lung cancer affects roughly 238,340 people every year across the country. While the main cause of the disease is tobacco smoking, toxic exposure can also result in lung cancer, which is the case of Camp Lejeune veterans and family members who drank contaminated water at the military base during the last century. Two solvents that were lurking in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune were found to have a strong association with lung cancer - perchloroethylene and vinyl chloride.

In a study from Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the researchers investigated the role of exposure to chlorinated solvents in lung cancer development. After adjustment for asbestos exposure, they observed a positive, significant association with lung cancer for participants exposed to a combination of perchloroethylene, dichloromethane, and trichloroethylene. It is worth noting that it is solvent combinations that cause lung cancer rather than exposure to a single chlorinated solvent.

Trichloroethylene exposure was also found to play a considerable role in lung cancer development by a study from Respiratory Medicine. Besides having a strong link to pulmonary veno-occlusive disease, which occurs in 6% of people with lung cancer, trichloroethylene exposure might also cause lung cancer, even though more research is required in this regard. The solvent is also responsible for chronic bronchitis and asthma, diseases that place Camp Lejeune Marines and family members at a higher lung cancer risk over the years. When trichloroethylene accumulates in cells, these biological alterations occur in laboratory animals, which are risk factors for lung cancer:

  • cytotoxicity, the property of the solvent being toxic to cells
  • aneuploidy, the occurrence of missing or extra chromosomes
  • cell divisions, the healthy cells dividing uncontrollably

Vinyl chloride exposure also promotes the development of lung cancer

The many volatile organic compounds found in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune include vinyl chloride, which was found in high levels in the soil and water due to the improper use and disposal of degreasers and other products. Because vinyl chloride is a gas, another route of exposure, in addition to drinking toxic water, was inhalation. When exposure occurs, the lungs can easily absorb vinyl chloride, and the solvent gradually accumulates in lung tissue. The following are the potential health effects of long-term exposure to vinyl chloride on the lungs:

  • respiratory tract irritation that causes shortness of breath
  • inflammation and thickening of the airways
  • damage to the air sacs exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide
  • gene mutations that can ultimately lead to lung cancer

Laboratory studies found that frequent exposure to vinyl chloride can result in a high incidence of bronchioloalveolar adenoma, a benign tumor that can turn malignant over the years. It typically starts in the smaller airways of the lung's outer portion. Similar to all cancers, lung cancer occurs when a cell mutates. The mutated cells do not contain the correct DNA to stop division. Consequently, the body continues to produce mutated cells that eventually form a tumor. Another study from Occupational and Environmental Medicine examined the health of 428 workers exposed to vinyl chloride. There were eleven cases of lung cancer versus eight that were expected.

If you are a Camp Lejeune Marine or a family member of one, you should look out for the following symptoms, which might indicate lung cancer, as you have a higher risk of developing it than the general population:

  • a cough that gets worse
  • shortness of breath
  • coughing up blood
  • feeling tired all the time
  • wheezing
  • unexplained weight loss
  • chest pain
  • loss of appetite

Are you a Camp Lejeune veteran or a family member of one who struggles with lung cancer? If so, we strongly encourage you to contact Atraxia Law, as we have the necessary experience, resources, and knowledge to help you find out whether you are eligible to file a claim and obtain financial compensation for your unjust suffering. Because we understand how overwhelming having cancer can be, we will go to great lengths to simplify the process so that it will require minimal involvement from you. This way, you will be able to continue focusing on your health and treatment.

File your Camp Lejeune water contamination claim with our expert assistance

With over 35 years of experience in reviewing toxic exposure claims, our team of professionals is ready to offer you the assistance you need if you spent time at Camp Lejeune and developed lung cancer. The only documents we will request to assess your case are your military records or proof of your stay at the military base and your medical records. Eligible individuals will be put in touch with a reputable, specialized attorney to have their claims filed.