You Don't Have to Smoke To Get Lung Cancer

You Don’t Have To Smoke To Get Lung Cancer

Less­er Known Caus­es of Lung Cancer

If you’ve nev­er smoked a day in your life, or even been around smok­ers, you might think you’re safe from get­ting lung can­cer. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, you don’t have to smoke to get lung can­cer. If you’re a non­smok­er who has been diag­nosed with lung can­cer, you might feel con­fused, sur­prised, or even scared.

There are sev­er­al things oth­er than smok­ing that can cause lung can­cer — from sec­ond­hand smoke to genet­ics. If you’re expe­ri­enc­ing fre­quent coughs, cough­ing up blood, or feel­ing chest pain, you’ll want to see a Duly pul­mo­nolo­gist imme­di­ate­ly. They’ll be able to diag­nose and treat you.

What Caus­es Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer’s main risk fac­tor is smok­ing cig­a­rettes. Smok­ing tobac­co prod­ucts like pipes or cig­ars can increase your risk because of the tox­ic mix of chem­i­cals in tobac­co, but there are also some less­er-known caus­es of lung can­cer that have noth­ing to do with smoking.

Here are oth­er rea­sons you might get lung cancer.

Radon Expo­sure

Radon is a nat­ur­al radioac­tive gas that can be dan­ger­ous over time when inhaled indoors. In the US, 21,000 peo­ple die each year from radon-relat­ed lung can­cer. Because it’s odor­less, most peo­ple won’t know it’s a prob­lem unless they test the loca­tion for it. Radon gas is harm­less out­doors because it dis­pers­es. It becomes a health con­cern when it gets trapped indoors. The gas can creep into build­ings through cracks or holes in the foun­da­tion of your home. 

To keep your home, school, or work­place safe, you can have it test­ed for radon lev­els. There are do-it-your­self tests or you can call a professional. 

Do you think you’ve been exposed to some­thing that can cause lung can­cer or you’re show­ing symp­toms? You can sched­ule an appoint­ment with a Duly pul­mo­nolo­gist to dis­cuss your concerns. 

Asbestos Expo­sure

Asbestos is a min­er­al that nat­u­ral­ly forms in rocks and dirt. It’s com­mon to find asbestos in build­ing con­struc­tion mate­ri­als for insu­la­tion, ceil­ing and floor tiles, heat-resis­tant fab­rics, and more. Asbestos usu­al­ly does­n’t pose any harm unless its fibers have been dis­turbed. That can hap­pen through build­ing or home main­te­nance, repairs, demo­li­tion work, and remodeling.

If you sus­pect you have some­thing that con­tains asbestos, don’t touch it. Con­tact an asbestos pro­fes­sion­al to deter­mine how to han­dle and dis­pose of it — and con­tact your health­care provider to deter­mine if you have been exposed to it. 

Diesel Exhaust Exposure

Diesel exhaust is a com­bi­na­tion of gasses and par­tic­u­lates that are cre­at­ed when mak­ing diesel fuel. Peo­ple who work around diesel exhaust might face sev­er­al health risks, includ­ing lung can­cer. Wear­ing res­pi­ra­to­ry equip­ment and lim­it­ing the amount of expo­sure are some pre­cau­tions that can be tak­en. If you’re wor­ried about poten­tial expo­sure, speak with your provider who can test you for lung cancer.

Arsenic Expo­sure

Arsenic is anoth­er less­er-known cause of lung can­cer. It’s a nat­ur­al ele­ment or met­al, that can form in the air, plants, rocks, and soil. Some forms of arsenic can be found in drink­ing water, foods like rice, fish, and shell­fish, as well as in indus­tri­al areas like glass factories.

Research has shown that lung can­cer has been con­nect­ed to arsenic expo­sure. If you think you’ve been exposed, talk to your provider immediately. 

Sec­ond­hand Smoke

If you’re around some­one who smokes and you inhale the smoke, that’s near­ly the same as if you smoked the cig­a­rette your­self. Sec­ond­hand smoke can also cause lung can­cer. Peo­ple who are reg­u­lar­ly exposed to sec­ond­hand smoke at work or at home have a 20 to 30% increased risk of devel­op­ing lung can­cer. But even brief expo­sure to sec­ond­hand smoke can be harmful. 

If you’ve been exposed to sec­ond­hand smoke and are expe­ri­enc­ing any symp­toms like fre­quent cough­ing or chest pains, let your provider know.

How Can You Low­er Your Risk of Lung Cancer?

Although not all lung can­cers can be com­plete­ly avoid­ed, you can low­er your risks by not smok­ing, not being in close con­tact with smok­ers, and avoid­ing oth­er can­cer-caus­ing sub­stances, found in the envi­ron­ment, like radon and arsenic. 

Learn who needs to be screened for lung can­cer and see if you meet the require­ments.

Tak­ing Care of You

If you do find out you have lung can­cer, you may be feel­ing many emo­tions. It’s not uncom­mon to feel as if your world has been turned upside down. 

Com­pared to oth­er can­cers like breast or prostate can­cer, lung can­cer has a high­er death rate in the US, but when it’s caught ear­ly, it has a much bet­ter chance of being cured. Sur­vival rates increase to near­ly 60% com­pared to 6% when found at an advanced stage. 

You’re also not alone. Our pul­mo­nolo­gists and oncol­o­gists will work with you every step of the way.

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