Healthy Living

What Are the Risk Factors for Lung Cancer?

Ignoring these risk factors could expose you to the dangers of cancer.

What Are the Risk Factors for Lung Cancer?

Key Takeaways

  • Any historical incidence of cancer in the family places direct siblings at a higher risk of contracting cancer. 
  • Wholly avoidable factors such as obesity, and tobacco and alcohol abuse can distort our lifestyles unless checked. 

A risk factor could be any one of numerous influences that make you prone to developing cancer. There are unavoidable factors that you have no protection against. Some of these are a family history of genetically inherited traits, and age and gender issues. There are wholly avoidable factors such as obesity and tobacco and alcohol abuse that distort our lifestyles. Over and above these influences, there are environmental factors that trigger cancer like radiation exposure, and air, water, and soil pollution. While cancer is unquestionably one of the worst diseases that an individual can suffer from, it is also the most painful and dangerous when taken in consideration with all its side effects and symptoms.

Cancer, when it comes, usually reveals multiple factors impacting the individual. The most important way of preventing cancer is to marginalize the risks that are changeable through lifestyle correction. Giving up tobacco and alcohol cuts the risk of developing cancer substantially. Nutritionally deficient diets and extremely sedentary working conditions can make people prone to cancer. Excessive eating habits linked to obesity can make your risk of cancer shoot up. Avoiding junk food and reducing exposure to artificial preservatives, coloring agents, and additives is another way of avoiding or limiting cancerous activity within the body. It is therefore advised that one must always ensure they are following a healthy lifestyle pattern where nutrition intake is adequate and proper exercise is done. A healthy person is always free from diseases, be it cancer or any other fatal infection. Every doctor, dietitian, and specialist makes sure that they avoid prescribing medications by replacing it with healthy habits and natural ways, as there’s no better cure than prevention.  

Using tobacco and alcohol

Clinical studies have established smoking as the number one risk factor provoking cancer, causing nearly 80 percent of all cancer-related deaths. The chances of regular smokers suffering small cell lung cancer (SCLC) are very high, and the risk increases proportionately with the number of cigarettes you smoke daily. Even so-called 'lighter' low tar cigarettes and menthol flavored tobacco cigarettes carry as big a risk as regular cigarettes because smokers of these tend to inhale and hold smoke for a longer duration. Being a nonsmoker is no protection against cancer if you live in proximity to habitual smokers. Inhaling secondhand smoke also exposes you to cancer. Not less than 7000 deaths are recorded annually among non-smokers inhaling secondhand smoke.

On the other hand, alcohol is no less dangerous for the health. The less alcohol you drink, the lower your risk of cancer. No type of alcohol is better or worse than another--it is alcohol itself that leads to the damage, regardless of whether it is in wine, beer, or spirits. Moreover, drinking and smoking together is even worse for an individual’s health. Although not everyone who drinks alcohol develops cancer, scientists have found that, on the whole, some cancers are more common in people who drink more alcohol than others. Every year, alcohol causes an ample amount of health hazards, some of them even leading to death.

Toxic radon exposure

Radon is a radioactive gas created by the natural breakdown of uranium in rocks. It is a byproduct of the decomposition of uranium in soils. Its presence is difficult to detect as the gas is tasteless, odorless, and invisible to the naked eye. In the US, radon exposure is considered to be one of the biggest risk factors contributing to cancer of the lungs. More than environmental radon, which is not as dangerous, it is the accumulation of the gas within the closed interiors of the home that elevates the risk of getting cancer.  Exposure to radon causes an average of 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year.

Exposure to asbestos fibers

Employees most exposed to asbestos pollution such as those working in the mining field, textile plants, and mills show a higher mortality rate. Working for long durations in an asbestos-polluted environment increases the risk, especially for smokers. Cancer that is most prevalent among asbestos-exposed workers is mesothelioma. This affects the pleural sheath that covers the outer surface of the lungs.  In homes, residents are at greater risk if older HVAC insulation materials degrade and release asbestos into the air.

Particulate pollution in the atmosphere

Heavy vehicular traffic in cities increases the risk of acquiring cancer through inhalation of harmful automobile exhaust smoke. Though the risk of lung cancer is lower than that posed by direct smoking, atmospheric pollution accounts for at least 5 percent of all cancer-related deaths. As individuals, we can play our part in reducing air pollution levels by trying to avoid creating more of it. We should always choose active travel options wherever possible, like walking and cycling. These natural ways of commuting can help reduce pollution levels from transport and are also a great way to be more active and fit, which eventually are linked to a reduced risk of cancer and other diseases.

Poisoning of water through arsenate salts

Fortunately, American water sourcing, purifying, and distribution systems ensure a higher quality of arsenate-free water for public consumption. Therefore, instances of arsenic poisoning have been effectively curtailed in the United States. However, it remains a problem in South American countries and Southeast Asia.

Indiscriminate use of beta-carotene supplements

Widely found in fruits and vegetables, beta-carotene is extensively used as a supplement in the treatment of asthma, heart disease, and vision impairment. Heavy smokers and alcoholics using these supplements report a higher incidence of cancer.  

Cancer in the family tree

Any historical incidence of cancer in the family places direct siblings of affected individuals at a higher risk of contracting cancer. This is particularly true if the relative succumbed to cancer in their prime. Mutated genes of the affected individual pose a big risk to subsequent generations.  The risk increases proportionately when defective gene carriers share other risk factors like smoking and environmental pollution. To avoid such factors, one must always opt for and be assiduous in pursuing regular health check-ups and proper living patterns that includes, most importantly, a healthy diet that includes the sufficient intake of important, cancer-fighting minerals and vitamins.