Cancer is widely known to be amongst the leading causes of death all around the globe. As per the statistics, every one out of six deaths is caused by cancer. And among all types of this deadly disease, lung cancer accounts for the highest number of deaths around the world.
The incidences of lung cancer were few and rare up until the 19th century. The only people who reported having developed this disease were regular smokers and people constantly exposed to occupational pollutants like miners. However, these numbers saw a rapid increase during the early 20th century.
Since then, numerous studies have been done and recorded that have put forth certain trends in the occurrence of lung cancer. This article discusses who is more prone to lung cancer.
Risk Factors That Make You More Prone To Lung Cancer
Lung cancer can appear to affect anyone — even people who have never smoked cigarettes, who lived in areas with low air pollution levels, and who did not have a family history of the disease.
If you look at the case studies of lung cancer and compare them alongside the research data, there is a high chance that you can predict the disease based on some factors. These factors are recorded based on decades of trends and can effectively predict if you have lung cancer-prone lungs.
Discussed below are the risk factors that put you at a higher risk of developing lung cancer.
1. Smoking Cigarettes
Smoking cigarettes is single-handedly the most common cause of lung cancer. In the historical trend, the occurrences of lung cancer seemed to increase with the increase in the population of regular smokers.
The smoke of tobacco consists of 7000 types of chemicals. Out of those, 70 chemicals are known carcinogens. People who smoke regularly, or even occasionally on a regular basis, are 15 to 30 times more prone to lung cancer.
These numbers are not very obvious because there is a latent period between regular smoking and the occurrence of lung cancer. The latent period may vary from person to person and it may be up to 30 years. It means if a person was a regular smoker 30 years ago and has quit now, they still have cancer-prone lungs. However, whenever you stop smoking, your chances of developing cancer start declining.
Secondary smoking, or exposure to cigarette smoke, also puts you at risk of this disease. It is because even though you are not smoking, regular exposure to the smoke has a similar effect on your lungs. Why Do Non-Smokers Get Lung Cancer?
2. Occupational Exposure To Carcinogens
The second risk factor that puts you at a high risk of lung cancer is exposure to carcinogens due to your occupation.
Lung cancer is a frequent incidence among miners as they are exposed to minute particles of dust and smoke mixed in the air for hours every day. Other chemicals that make you prone to lung cancer are silica, arsenic, nickel, chromium, tar, and soot. People involved in construction work, glassmaking, shipbuilding, and bricklaying are frequently exposed to these carcinogens.
Asbestos is also a highly potent carcinogen that was used in multiple industries. It was the cause of 70 to 80% of the cases of mesothelioma, a type of tumor of the chest cavity and other organs. However, its use is now prohibited in the industries.
3. Family History Of Lung Cancer
If you have had any family member who had lung cancer, you are more prone to the disease. This is especially the case if your second-degree relative including your mother, father, sister, or brother had it.
Mutations can turn a harmless gene into a carcinogenic one. Also, it can deactivate a gene that was responsible for the detoxification of carcinogens from your body. And these mutations can travel through the generations.
As genetic traits are transferred among generations, you can inherit the mutations that can potentially cause cancer. Sometimes these genes remain inactive and do not cause cancer, but in another individual, the same gene can get activated by an external factor and lead to lung cancer.
If you have a family history of lung cancer and you smoke, you become more prone to lung cancer. For such people, there is no safe level for smoking or tobacco consumption.
4. Environmental Exposure To Carcinogens
As the level of air pollution is increasing, so is your exposure to potential carcinogens. Along with the natural gases, the air you breathe also contains smoke from industrial and vehicle emissions.
Hence, if you live in an industrial or urban region, you are at a higher risk of this disease.
Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally from the uranium present in rocks and soils. This gas is known to be a carcinogen and can be present in fairly high amounts even in residential areas.
5. Vitamin Supplements
Earlier, certain vitamin supplements were thought to boost your immunity, increase your lung capacity, and have other such effects. Beta carotene was one such supplement. However, later studies have shown that beta-carotene as a supplement puts you at a higher risk of lung cancer.
6. Other Factors
Some other minor trends have been observed in the occurrences of lung cancer at the population level.
When it comes to lung cancer, men appear to have more risk than women. Studies continue regarding this trend. This could be due to some anatomic differences in the bodies of males and females. However, this could also be simply because smoking is more common among men than women.
Be Aware Of The Risks
Lung cancer is undoubtedly a very deadly disease. This statement is made more pressing by the fact that it is rarely diagnosed at an early stage making it’s treatment difficult.
We discussed the 6 major factors that make you more likely to have this disease. It is necessary to be aware of such factors to prevent this disease.
It is never too late. Quit smoking, avoid places with high pollution levels, and if you have to be exposed to pollution, wear a mask and take the required safety measures as per occupational norms.
If you are someone who is more prone to lung cancer or has been recently diagnosed, you can seek consultation with Dr. Arvind Kumar at Medanta Hospital, Gurgaon. You can also seek lung cancer treatment for the disease under his supervision. With over 40 years of experience in the field, Dr. Arvind Kumar has an all-encompassing cancer care team of expert professionals. They provide the only comprehensive A to Z lung cancer treatment program in India.
1. What are the top 3 causes of lung cancer?
Smoking is the cause of around 85% of cases of lung cancer. Apart from that, occupational exposure to carcinogens like silica, arsenic, and nickel, and environmental exposure to the same through pollution are also leading causes of this disease.
2. What gender is more likely to get lung cancer?
As per the trends, men are more prone to lung cancer than women. This could be due to certain anatomical differences. However, the major reason for this could be that there are more number of male regular smokers than females.
3. Is lung cancer genetic or lifestyle?
Lung cancer can be caused by both genetic and lifestyle factors. If you have a family history of this disease, you are at a higher risk of having it. Also, mutations can cause lung cancer. Also, lifestyle factors like where you live and whether or not you smoke and drink can affect your chances of developing lung cancer.