Smoking and Other Lung Cancer Risk Factors
Specialists cannot always explain why one person develops lung cancer and another does not. However, we do know that an individual with certain risk factors may be more likely than others to develop lung cancer. Moreover, some can be controlled, while others cannot. Learn more about what are more likely to cause lung cancer below.
Smoking and Lung Cancer
Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. People who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer than people who do not smoke. Even smoking a few cigarettes a day or smoking occasionally increases the chances of lung cancer. The more years a person smokes and the more cigarettes smoked each day, the more likely it gets. Those who smoke have a greater danger of developing cancer as the cigarette smoke inhaled contains a large number of carcinogens – substances that cause DNA damage to the cells thus leading to uncontrolled cell division. People who gave up smoking are less likely to develop lung cancer than if they had continued to smoke, but their risk is higher than those of people who never smoked. Quitting smoking at any age can lower the chances of lung cancer.
Secondhand smoke (passive smoke) is a major risk factor for lung cancer among non-smokers. Secondhand smoking can increase the likelihood of lung cancer by about 30%. No amount of exposure to second-hand smoke is safe.
Beta-carotene supplements in smokers
A number of studies have demonstrated an increased danger of lung cancer among smokers who use high doses of beta-carotene supplements long-term. In normal, healthy, nonsmokers, beta-carotene supplements show a beneficial effect. However, smokers taking beta-carotene have developed more lung cancer tumors than those not taking the supplement.
Other Factors Affecting the Chances of Getting Lung Cancer
Personal or Family History of Lung Cancer
A lung cancer survivor, especially those who have smoked, may develop another form of lung cancer. Your chances of getting lung cancer may be higher if your parents, brothers or sisters, or children have had lung cancer. This could be true because they also smoke, or they live or work in the same place where they are exposed to radon and other substances that can cause lung cancer.
Exposure to Cancer-Causing Chemicals
Significant exposure to substances such as asbestos, coal gas, chromates, nickel, arsenic, vinyl chloride, mustard gas, and radon may increase your risk of developing lung cancer.
Radiation Therapy to the Chest
Cancer survivors who had radiation therapy to the chest are at higher risk of lung cancer.
Lung cancer is more common in people above the age of 40.
When should I see my doctor?
You should see your doctor right away if you have signs and symptoms that concern you. This is particularly important if you have risk factors for lung cancer such as a history of lung disease, a family history of lung cancer, and especially if you are a smoker.
Lower Your Risk of Lung Cancer
You can help lower your risk in the following ways:
- Lead a smoke-free lifestyle
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Attend regular health screenings and follow-ups.
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.