Asbestos is a microscopic fibrous material that's made from various mineral groups. It has existed since the late 1800's, but was used prolifically in the years following World War II by the construction and shipping industries, as an insulator to give strength to cement and plastics. Eventually, asbestos was found to increase the rate of lung cancer in people who worked with it. Stomach and intestinal cancer have also been traced to asbestos exposure. People who smoke and are exposed to asbestos have a much higher chance of developing cancer. If you know you've been exposed to asbestos for any length of time, see your physician.