Nobody wants to get lung cancer. Unfortunately, it’s the most common form of cancer in both men and women - accounting for one in every four cases of the disease. This is because risk factors for the illness are all around us, but many of them can be avoided if you know what to look out for. This list of some of the most common causes can help you to remain alert.
Far and away, the most common cause of lung cancer is smoking tobacco. Cigarette smoke contains lots of carcinogens, which, over time, cause significant damage to lung tissue when inhaled. Over 80 per cent of all cases of the condition have been linked to smoking, meaning you can radically reduce your chances of getting the illness simply by cutting out the smokes. The good news is that much of the damage caused by smoking can be reversed given enough time.
You don’t have to be a smoker to be at risk from cigarette smoke. Passive smoking is a big risk factor for cancer, and can happen in many different environments. Many countries have now banned smoking inside bars and restaurants, but it can still be tough to avoid in such settings. If a member of your household is a smoker, their habit may be causing you harm, even if you’ve never touched a cigarette.
Radon and lung cancer
Radon is a gas which forms from the breakdown of Uranium. It normally originates in rocks and soil, but it can seep into your home and contaminate the air and water supply. It’s a radioactive substance, and when inhaled in large enough amounts it can damage the lung tissue. Around a third of lung cancer deaths in non-smokers have been linked to this chemical, and it can be impossible to detect without using specialized equipment.
Many jobs carry a risk of cancer due to the chemicals involved, as this study shows. If you work in construction and shipbuilding, you might come into regular contact with substances like arsenic and asbestos. These are harmful when inhaled, and can increase the risk of cancer if you don’t take protective measures. There are also risks involved with working in areas where people smoke, for example bars and clubs, and the chemicals in cleaning materials can make housekeeping work risky, too.
Diet and exercise
It’s actually unclear how much diet and exercise affect your risk of developing lung cancer, as smokers tend to have different exercise and eating habits to non-smokers. However, several studies, have found a link between low exercise rates and increased likelihood of cancer.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about this one. Some people simply have a genetic predisposition to certain illnesses, and will always be at more risk than other people with the same lifestyle. If some of your family members have suffered from this type of cancer, you may be at increased risk. Don’t despair, though, as avoiding the other factors listed and taking care of your health will still vastly reduce your chances of getting ill.