What is lung cancer?
It is a disease where cells in the lung begin to grow abnormally and uncontrollably.
Lung cancer is a very common cancer. And it is the commonest cause of death due to cancers, in both men and women, worldwide!
Sometimes, cancer may spread to the lungs from another part of the body; in this case, the cancer did not start in the lungs. Also, cancer that starts in the lungs can spread to other parts of the body over time.
Who is affected by lung cancer?
Many years ago, lung cancer used to affect more men than women. But in the past few years, more women have started smoking and so, lung cancer is now common in women as well.
12 reasons why you may have a high risk of developing lung cancer?
- Smoking cigarettes: This is the biggest cause of lung cancer. Smoking cigars, shisha/hookah and pipes also cause lung cancer. More than 8 out of 10 cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking.
- Being exposed to second hand smoke: Unfortunately, people who don’t smoke also have an increased risk of having this disease. So, even when you don’t smoke, inhaling second hand smoke (from other people’s smoking) raises the risk. This group of people are called passive smokers. And their risk of lung cancer is lower than in active smokers.
- Air pollution: The more air pollution you are exposed to, the greater the risk. This means that people who live in cities with high level of air pollution have a higher chance of developing it.
- Past history of cancer treatment: Those who have had treatment for cancer in the past have an increased chance of developing it.
- Being exposed to certain substances: Exposure to some substances (like cadmium, diesel exhaust, soot, tar, chromium, asbestos, nickel, silica, beryllium, arsenic) increase the risk.
- Reduced immunity: In people with reduced immunity, the risk is raised. People with reduced immunity include those who have had organ transplants (because of some drugs they have to take), HIV and AIDS.
- Being exposed to radon gas: This is one of the biggest causes of lung cancer after smoking. Radon gas is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally. It is given off from the small quantities of uranium that is found in rocks and soil.
- A family history of lung cancer: Having a family member who has or had lung cancer raises the risk. The risk is higher when the family member is a first degree relation (like your child, brother, sister or parent). Also, the risk is higher when it is your brother or sister than when it is your parent.
- Cooking with open fires: Using open fires too cook more often than not also increases the risk.
- Past history of other cancers related to smoking: A person who has suffered from other cancers that are related to smoking has a higher chance of having the disease. Other smoking-related cancers include oesophageal cancer, cervical cancer, head and neck cancer.
- Past history of lung disease: People who have had lung disease in the past (like chlamydia pneumonia, tuberculosis) are at increased risk.
- Smokers taking beta carotene supplements: It has been found that when smokers take beta carotene supplements, they are at greater risk.
Quick question: Which one of these reasons are you familiar with and how do you think you can reduce your risk of having lung cancer? Please answer in the comment section below. You can also ask your questions here.