Are You at Risk? 10 Lung Cancer Risk Factors You Should Know

Tobacco. 87% of all lung cancers in the United States are tobacco-related. Quitting smoking helps to reduce that risk.

Secondhand smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer by 20 percent to 30 percent.

Asbestos. When asbestos is inhaled, the fibers can irritate the lung and may eventually cause lung disease. People who smoke and are exposed to asbestos have a higher risk of developing lung cancer. Fortunately, professional protective breathing equipment can reduce the risk of breathing in asbestos fibers for those who work with or around asbestos.

Radon. It’s an odorless gas released by some soil and rocks that contain uranium. Some homes may have high levels of radon, especially on the lower levels, because they are built on soil that naturally contains radon. You can purchase Environmental Protection Agency-approved kits in hardware stores to measure the amount of radon in your home.

Industrial substances.  Arsenic, uranium, beryllium, vinyl chloride, nickel chromates, coal products, mustard gas, chloromethyl ethers, gasoline, and diesel exhaust are known cancer causing substances.

Radiation exposure.  X-rays to the chest area can increase the risk of lung cancer, especially in people who smoke.

Air pollution. Polluted air can contain trace amounts of diesel exhaust, coal products, and other industrial substances known to cause cancer.

Tuberculosis. TB can cause scarring of lung tissue, which can be a risk factor for developing lung cancer.

Genetics. Family history can also play a role in the development of lung cancer.

Military service.  Both veterans and active-duty personnel may have exposures to industrial substances, asbestos bearing materials, and air pollution, as well as tactical chemicals such as Agent Orange.

*, a Program of CancerCare