RISK FACTORS FOR LUNG CANCER

RISK FACTORS FOR LUNG CANCER

August 14, 2019

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1) Cigarette smoking: 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 risk of lung cancer. The more years a person smokes and the more cigarettes smoked each day, the more risk goes up.

Tobacco and tobacco smoke contain 7,000 chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic. Inhaling the chemicals in a cigarette immediately triggers a change in lung tissue.

People who quit smoking have a lower risk of lung cancer than if they had continued to smoke, but their risk is higher than the risk for people who never smoked. Quitting smoking at any age can lower the risk of lung cancer.

2) Radon: Radon is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that occurs naturally with the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. These gases can seep into building foundations and into living and working spaces. Because radon is difficult to detect, you could have exposure to it without knowing it. People who smoke have an increased risk from the effects of radon than those who don’t smoke.  You can purchase Environmental Protection Agency-approved kits in hardware stores to measure the amount of radon in your home.

3) Asbestos: Asbestos is a mineral fiber that has been used in the manufacturing of many products for decades, including insulation and tiles. No safe level of asbestos exposure has been identified. Most exposure is occupational (job-related) and has been heavily concentrated in the mechanical, construction and shipbuilding industries. However, many buildings and schools today still contain products made of asbestos. Asbestos exposure increases the risk of lung cancer and also of developing mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of organs that can start in the lungs but also the abdomen, heart and chest.

4) Genetics Factor: Current research suggests that if a member of your immediate family, such as your parent or sibling, has or had lung cancer, you may have a slightly higher risk of developing the disease. This is also the case if you have multiple family members who’ve had lung cancer. Increased relative risks were found even after careful adjustment for smoking.

5) Environmental exposure: Environmental chemicals including arsenic, beryllium, air pollution from vehicle and diesel exhaust and industrial and residential emissions, as well as those from power plants. Exposure to certain toxins in the environment can increase your risk of developing lung cancer. These toxins include radon, asbestos, and other chemicals like

  • arsenic
  • beryllium
  • cadmium
  • vinyl chloride
  • nickel compounds
  • chromium compounds
  • coal products
  • mustard gas
  • chloromethyl ethers
  • diesel exhaust