Known Causes Of Lung Cancer

During the early part of the last century, the popularity of cigarette smoking underwent explosive growth among men. Two decades later, women joined the ranks of habitual smokers in droves. Today, lung cancer claims nearly 150,000 lives each year; eighty percent of cases are directly attributed to cigarettes. Despite how deadly it is, the condition is largely avoidable.

While smoking is the leading cause of the disease, there are other, less prevalent causes. In this article, we’ll describe a few of them in detail, beginning with habitual smoking and continuing with secondary smoke, and exposure to other elements.

Habitual Smoking

Doctors measure the risk that a patient might develop lung cancer by considering two variables. They want to know how many packs a patient typically smokes per day and how many years the patient has indulged the habit. The higher each number is, the more likely the disease will manifest. Despite what a lot of smokers believe, cigars and pipes also present a risk (albeit much lower).

Cigarette smoke contains thousands of chemicals. Some of them, like nitrosamines, are known to be carcinogenic. Over time, those chemicals infiltrate and damage the cells in the bronchi, leading to the development of malignant tumors. The cancerous cells can eventually affect the heart, causing the right side to enlarge.

Secondary Smoke

Many people mistakenly believe that inhaling secondhand smoke does not represent a risk of developing lung cancer. In fact, it does. Thousands of people in the U.S. die each year from developing the disease after constant exposure to secondhand smoke. For example, patients who do not smoke cigarettes, but live with an habitual smoker are 24% more likely to suffer from the disease.

Exposure To Asbestos

Years ago, asbestos was used liberally within houses, apartments, and office buildings in order to insulate them. Unfortunately, while it provides effective insulation, asbestos also damages the tissue within the lungs. Given time and prolonged exposure, that damage can lead to cancer. Further, asbestos significantly increases the likelihood of a smoker developing the disease. For example, a non-smoker who works with the material is 5 times more likely to be affected than someone who does not work with it. By contrast, a smoker who works with asbestos is up to 90 times more likely.

Other Risk Factors

There are other risk factors besides those mentioned above. For example, people who are exposed to radon gas, arsenic, nickel, and chloromethyl ethers on a regular basis run the risk of developing lung cancer. Genetics also plays an important role. A patient may be more susceptible to the disease if someone in his or her immediate family has had it.

Once diagnosed, a doctor will recommend a number of possible treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery. If the disease is identified early enough, it is possible for the doctor to treat it successfully and for the patient to enjoy a long, healthy life.

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