November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

by Kimberly Vanderpoel on November 30th, 2017

Did you know?

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and the second most common cancer among both men and women in the United States.

What Are the Risk Factors for Lung Cancer?

 

Smoking

Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. In the United States, cigarette smoking is linked to about 80% to 90% of lung cancers. Using other tobacco products such as cigars or pipes also increases the risk for lung cancer. Tobacco smoke is a toxic mix of more than 7,000 chemicals. Many are poisons. At least 70 are known to cause cancer in people or animals.

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.

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.

Cigarette smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in the body. Cigarette smoking causes cancer of the mouth and throat, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, voicebox (larynx), trachea, bronchus, kidney and renal pelvis, urinary bladder, and cervix, and causes acute myeloid leukemia.

Chart detailing the higher exposure rates to second hand smoke of certain groups of nonsmoking Americans. Nonsmoking Americans ages 3-11 years 41% higher exposure rate, ages 12-19 years 34% higher exposure rate, age 20 years and older 21% higher exposure rate. Nonsmoking white Americans 22% higher exposure rate, black 47% higher exposure rate, Mexican American 24% higher exposure rate. Nonsmoking Americans below the poverty level 43% higher exposure rate, at the poverty level 21% higher exposure rate. Nonsmoking Americans who own their home 19% higher exposure rate, renters 37% higher exposure rate.

Secondhand Smoke

Smoke from other people’s cigarettes, pipes, or cigars (secondhand smoke) also causes lung cancer. When a person breathes in secondhand smoke, it is like he or she is smoking. In the United States, two out of five adults who don’t smoke and half of children are exposed to secondhand smoke, and about 7,300 people who never smoked die from lung cancer due to secondhand smoke every year.

Radon

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that comes from rocks and dirt and can get trapped in houses and buildings. It cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon causes about 20,000 cases of lung cancer each year, making it the second leading cause of lung cancer. Nearly one out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is thought to have high radon levels. The EPA recommends testing homes for radon and using proven ways to lower high radon levels.

Other Substances

Examples of substances found at some workplaces that increase risk include asbestos, arsenic, diesel exhaust, and some forms of silica and chromium. For many of these substances, the risk of getting lung cancer is even higher for those who smoke.

People who have smoked for many years may want to think about screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT). Talk to your doctor about lung cancer screening and the possible benefits and harms. Lung cancer screening is not a substitute for quitting smoking.

www.cdc.gov

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