More men and women die from lung cancer than any other cancers. Who is most susceptible to this disease? Nearly 70 percent of the elderly 65 and older will be diagnosed with this disease. Three percent of lung cancer cases have appeared in people younger than 45 years old.
Until the 1930s, cancer of the lungs was not as prevalent but still quite common. However, once there was an increase of tobacco smoking use, lung cancer cases rose drastically. As information and education circulates about the hidden dangers of smoking, lung cancer related deaths are beginning to see a decline. Despite all the education and the public awareness, it’s still a common human cancer. For women, breast cancer is no longer the number one killer. Lung cancer has exceeded breast cancer related deaths.
Lung Cancer Causes
Smoking – Most lung cancer related deaths (about 90 percent) have been associated with smoking. Each time a person smokes a cigarette, they increase their chances of getting lung cancer. Based upon doctors’ formula regarding the quantity of packs to the amount of years smoked, someone who has a 30 pack to year history has a greater chance to develop lung cancer. For those people who smoke two, three or more packs a day, statistics show that one in seven diagnosed will die from the disease. Cigarette smoking is not the only culprit to lung cancer. Cigar smoking and pipe smoking can also lead to the disease at a lower rate. Those who smoke cigars or pipe smoke are five times more likely to get lung cancer than a person who never smoked.
The smoke found in tobacco has over 4,000 element compounds. Many of these are cancer causing. Two key carcinogens are polycyclic aromatic hdrycarbons and nitrosamines. Once a person has given up tobacco use, lung cancer risks decreases every year. Normal cells will begin to grow and outnumber damaged lung cells. After 15 years of not smoking, lung processes and the threat of the disease gets close to that of someone who has never smoked.
Passive Smoking – What is passive smoking? This is when people who are in close quarters smokers breathe in the smoke filled air. Those who don’t smoke have a 24 percent likelihood to develop lung cancer if they live with a smoker. Nearly 3,000 deaths can be associated with passive smoking.
Asbestos Fibers – Mesothelioma and lung cancer through asbestos exposure is high. People who work in asbestos related fields and smoke dramatically increase their chances of getting a lung cancer connected disease. When compared with their non smoking counterparts, they have a 50 to 90 percent greater risk of getting lung cancer or other lung related illness.
Radon Gas – Radon gas has been documented to be the next leading cause in lung cancer deaths, killing anywhere from 15,000 to 22,000 people in the United States every year. Like asbestos exposure, radon exposure augments lung cancer risks. The gas is able to travel through soil. It can gain entrance into homes by the gaps found in its foundation, its drains and its pipes. Nearly one in 15 homes is found with dangerous level of radon gas according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Can a person tell if their home has high amounts of radon gas? Only by a kit. The gas cannot be smelled, nor can be it seen.
Genetics – It’s true that most cases of lung cancer can be linked back to smoking. However, not every smoker will get the disease. That means other factors like genetics could play a part behind the causes of lung cancer. Studies have revealed that cancer can and does occur in families that have smokers and nonsmokers. It would seem a gene can increase the vulnerability of smokers in getting lung cancer.
Lung Diseases – When a smoker or even non smoker has other lung diseases such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), they are at an increased risk to develop the disease even if they quit smoking and all the effects have worn away.
History of Lung Disease – People with a record of lung cancer are at a higher risk of developing it a second time. People who have survived a non-small cell lung cancers have a one to two percent risk to getting the disease a second time while those who have beaten small cell lung cancers have a six percent increase each year.
Air Pollution – The chances of getting lung cancer from air pollution is raised in individuals that breathe in polluted air every day. Pollution from cars, power plants and industrialized areas increases these risks. Yet, they only account for one percent of lung cancer related deaths. Experts have suggested that every day exposure to air heavily polluted can be compared to passive smoking.