What causes lung cancer?
Smoking tobacco and exposure to certain chemicals can greatly increase your risk of getting lung cancer. Nearly
Lung cancer is caused by a mutation in your DNA. When cells reproduce, they divide and replicate, forming identical cells. In this way, your body is constantly renewing itself. Inhaling harmful, cancer-causing substances, or carcinogens, damages the cells that line your lungs. Examples of these carcinogens include:
- cigarette smoke
At first, your body may be able to repair itself. With repeated exposure, your cells become increasingly damaged. Over time, the cells begin to act abnormally and grow uncontrollably. This is how cancer can develop.
Several precancerous changes have to occur before cancer actually manifests. The buildup of extra cells causes tumors, which are either benign or malignant. Malignant cancerous lung tumors can be life-threatening. They can spread and even return after they have been removed.
Read on to learn about the personal and environmental factors that can cause lung cancer.
Current research suggests that if a member of your immediate family has had lung cancer, you may have a slightly higher risk of developing the disease. Immediate family includes the following relations:
This elevated risk is true even if you don’t smoke. It’s unclear whether genetics causes lung cancer or merely increase your susceptibility to it.
According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer mostly occurs in older adults. Two out of three people diagnosed with lung cancer are 65 or older. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 70. The older you are, the longer you have been exposed to harmful chemicals. This longer exposure increases your risk for cancer.
Past lung diseases
Past lung diseases can cause inflammation and scarring in the lungs. Examples of these diseases include tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. You may be at a greater risk of developing lung cancer if you have a history of chronic diseases that affect the lungs.
Radiation therapy to the chest
Even if you don’t smoke, being exposed to secondhand smoke can increase your risk of lung cancer. This exposure can occur at any place you spend time, such as:
According to the CDC, each year about
Smoking tobacco is the number one risk factor for lung cancer, accounting for
A balanced diet provides your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to maintain good health. If you don’t eat a diverse mix of healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables, you may have an increased risk for lung cancer. This is especially true if you smoke tobacco.
Radon is a gas that occurs naturally with the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. It’s odorless, colorless, and tasteless.
This gas can seep into building foundations and into living and working spaces. Radon is difficult to detect and you could be exposed without knowing it. People who smoke have an increased risk from the effects of radon than those who don’t smoke. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, according to the
Asbestos is an industrial material used in construction for insulation and as a fire retardant. When the material is disturbed, small fibers become airborne and can be inhaled. You’re at a greater risk for developing lung cancer if you’re exposed to asbestos on a regular basis.
Other chemical exposures can raise your risk of lung cancer. Some examples are:
- vinyl chloride
- nickel compounds
- chromium compounds
- coal products
- mustard gas
- chloromethyl ethers
- diesel exhaust