Steve McQueen was a Hollywood actor who starred in over 20 movies, most notable The Great Escape & The Thomas Crown Affair. His image has been reproduced on posters worldwide and he was revered as one of the ‘greats’.
McQueen was born in 1930 and died in 1980 at the age of 50, following an operation to remove/reduce several tumours in his abdomen. It is widely believed that McQueen’s cancer and subsequent tumours were caused by his heavy smoking- along with co-star Yul Bremer. However many experts, and McQueen himself suggest that it was in fact mesothelioma cancer, caused by exposure to asbestos.
Just before his death, McQueen participated in a medical interview where he suggested that his asbestos exposure over the years was to blame for his condition.
During McQueen’s time with the Marines he was exposed consistently to asbestos whilst removing asbestos lagging from the pipes on the troop ships. McQueen was also subjected to further exposure to asbestos, when filming as there was asbestos used in sound stage insulation, race-drivers’ suits and helmets, and this may also have contributed to his illness.
A very high percentage of mesothelioma cases are linked with asbestos exposure. It is a rare cancer affecting the thoracic and abdominal cavities and internal organs. The symptoms of include, pain in the lower back or side of the chest, difficulty breathing, coughing, and weight loss. Mesothelioma is the most insidious of the asbestos-related diseases in that even those with low or intermittent exposure to asbestos can be sufferers.