Lung cancer results from the growth of malignant cells in lung tissues. In the U.S., lung cancer is the second-most common type of cancer, with more people dying from this condition than any other type of cancer. Actions taken to prevent lung cancer could lower the number of new cases and, hopefully, the number of deaths caused by it.

Risk factors

There are a number of risks factors associated with lung cancer. While some can be avoided, others cannot. Examples provided by the National Cancer Institute include:

  • Tobacco smoking (in the form of cigarettes, cigars, or pipes) is the most important risk factor associated with lung cancer. Even if you smoke low-tar or low-nicotine cigarettes, the risk is not reduced. Studies showed that the number of cigarettes smoked per day and the number of years that a person has smoked, increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Also, smokers are about 20 times more likely to develop lung cancer compared to non-smokers.
  • People exposed to secondhand smoke (smoke that comes from a burning cigarette or exhaled from a smoker) inhale, in a smaller amount, the same toxic agents as smokers.
  • People who have a family member who has had lung cancer have twice the risk of developing lung cancer.
  • People infected with HIV have more than twice the risk of developing lung cancer although the link between these two diseases is still not clear.
  • A number of environmental factors can increase the risk of developing lung cancer. These include:
    • Radioactivity. Being exposed to radioactive substances increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Radioactive sources are atomic bombs, radiation therapy (used to treat certain cancers such as breast cancer and Hodgkin lymphoma), imaging tests (e.g., CT scans), or radon (a radioactive gas that results from the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil).
    • Occupational exposure. Certain substances that one can be exposed to at work, such as asbestos, arsenic, chromium, nickel, or cadmium, have been shown to increase the risk of developing lung cancer.
    • Air pollution. High levels of air pollution also increase the risk of lung cancer.
  • People who smoke one or more packets of cigarettes a day have a higher risk of developing lung cancer if they take beta carotene supplements.

Protective measures

Taking protective measures may reduce the risk of developing lung cancer. These include:

  • Stopping smoking. This is the best protective measure to prevent lung cancer. There are strategies that can help quit smoking and one can seek advice from their doctor. Examples include nicotine replacement products, medications, and support groups.
  • Avoiding secondhand smoke by not going to smoking areas, such as bars or restaurants, where smoking is allowed.
  • Lowering occupational exposure and exposure to radon. Precautions should be taken at work to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals by wearing a face mask. In areas where radon is a problem, radon levels should be monitored.
  • Eating a healthy diet. A diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables is a good source of vitamins and nutrients. However, taking large doses of vitamin pills (such as beta carotene supplements) has been shown to increase the risk of lung cancer in heavy smokers.
  • Exercising regularly has a positive impact on overall health and may help reduce the risk of developing lung cancer.

Note: Lung Cancer News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.