Risk factors are lifestyle choices, behaviors, traits or other exposures increasing your risk of having a particular disease. Each type of cancer has its own risk factors, some of which you control and others you do not. For example, you can stop smoking but cannot change your family history or age. All of these are risk factors for lung cancer.
Having risk factors does not make your risk of cancer definite. Some people diagnosed with lung cancer have no risk factors. These merely provide cues to your chances of developing the disease.
Risk factors of lung cancer include:
Smoking is the most known and leading risk factor for lung cancer. Smoking relates to 80 percent of lung cancer deaths. This risk includes smoking tobacco of all kinds, whether by cigarettes, cigars or pipe. Low tar and light cigarettes do not decrease your risk for lung cancer and menthol cigarettes might make your risk worse.
Smoking as a risk factor includes breathing secondhand smoke. Being around others who smoke leads to many peoples’ lung cancer diagnoses. About 7000 people are believed to die from secondhand smoke lung cancers each year.
Soil, groundwater and even air emit a radioactive gas called radon. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Radon is typically not dangerous outdoors. But inside your house or other structures the gas becomes concentrated, leading to long term exposure that increases your risk of lung cancer. Basements provide the highest risk for these gases.
Asbestos, a popular building material through the second half of the 20th century, causes lung cancer and particularly mesothelioma. This risk increases in people who smoke. Government regulations control asbestos use today but many older homes and buildings still contain the material.
Cancer causing agents, carcinogens, increase lung cancer risk. Many American workers experience exposure to these chemicals each day. They include radioactive ores and diesel exhaust.
Other risk factors for lung cancer include: