Lung Cancer: What Are the Risk factors?

Since our lungs draw in and use the air from the external environment, any harmful thing that we breathe in can negatively affect them. Upon continuous damage and prolonged exposure to these harmful substances, a fatal condition called lung cancer may arise.

The risk of developing lung cancer increases, as you grow older. A risk factor is what increases this risk – it could be anything from a behavior, condition, or substance. Usually, a number of risk factors combine to result in lung cancer.

The possible risk factors for lung cancer are as follows.

1.   Smoking tobacco

Smoking tobacco is perhaps the biggest risk factor for lung cancer. About 80 – 85% of lung cancer in the United States is caused by smoking.

Tobacco smoke contains toxic chemicals that alter the lung cells and contribute to lung cancer.

The risk that smoking poses depends on how many cigarettes you smoke daily, how long you have been smoking, and the age at which you started smoking.

Other unsafe things that cause cancer include pipes, hookahs, cigars, herbal cigarettes, low-nicotine and low-tar cigarettes, and chewing tobacco.

Furthermore, even second-hand or passive smoking also increases the risk of lung cancer. It is a common cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

2.   Radon

A colorless, tasteless, and odorless gas, radon is produced from the natural breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. This gas can enter buildings and homes through cracks and dirt floors.

High levels of radon in a living place can prove dangerous – berthing in radon gas can damage the cells of your lungs’ lining. Radon exposure is one of the leading causes of lung cancer.

The risk of developing lung cancer depends on the amount of gas you are exposed to and the duration of the exposure.   

3.   Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring group of minerals that can be separated into long fine fibers. These fibers can get trapped in the lungs if you breathe them in. Asbestos is widely used in building materials and industries. Hence, usually the industry and construction workers are the ones inhaling the harmful substance and thus, they have a high risk of developing lung cancer. 

4.   Industrial substances and pollution

Inhaling cancer-causing chemicals is yet another important risk factor. These chemicals include mustard gas, arsenic, cadmium, uranium, chromium compounds etc.

The industries that have a high risk of lung cancer working in include rubber manufacturing, iron and steel forming, coke production, commercial painting, coal gasification, and chimney sweeping. 

In addition to this, exposure to air pollution can also cause cancer. There are several harmful chemicals and substances in the outdoor air, which are harmful to your lungs.

5.   Genetics or history of a lung disease

Inherited or environmentally acquired gene mutations also play a role in the development of lung cancer.

Moreover, certain lung diseases that you might have suffered from in the past can damage your lungs and increase the risk of lung cancer, such as Tuberculosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

These are some of the most common risk factors for lung cancer. Hence, consider avoiding these factors to keep your lungs healthy and safe.

Author
Health One Family Medicine

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