Top 10 Causes of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer has a variety of causes. Cigarette smokers aren’t the only ones at risk for developing lung cancer in their lifetime. Learn the 10 biggest causes of lung cancer and take appropriate steps to prevent it from happening to you.

10.) High Cholesterol

There is a need for many more studies on the connection between lung cancer and the foods we eat. However, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reason to believe that people with high levels of cholesterol are at a heightened risk for developing lung cancer. It’s difficult to prove whether diets high in fruits and vegetables really decrease the risk, however, since smokers tend to have less healthy diets than nonsmokers.

9.) Alcohol Consumption

Drinking is also a factor—excessive consumption of alcohol may increase the likelihood of getting lung cancer, too. The CDC notes that the distinction between the risks of smoking and drinking is difficult to make, since many people who drink alcohol excessively also smoke, and many smokers also drink.

8.) Genetics

There seems to be an increased chance of developing lung cancer if a parent, sibling, or child of a person has lung cancer. It’s believed that some genetic patterns do contribute to an increased chance of developing certain cancers. However, familial risk isn’t just about DNA and inherited traits.

7.) Shared Traits with Family and Friends

It’s fairly common for all members of a family or social group to have some habits or interests in common. Some families might all like Italian food, and they also might all smoke.

6.) Living with a Smoker

Even if one doesn’t share the behavior of smoking with family or roommates, the consistent exposure to secondhand smoke plays a major role: nonsmokers living with smokers are at a risk 20 to 30 percent higher than other nonsmokers.

5.) Other Exposure to Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke kills about 3,000 people every year due to fatal lung cancer. One can be exposed to secondhand smoke at home, work, public venues like restaurants, or even just walking down the street. While some states have laws in place to manage smoking in public, others still permit it indoors in many places.

4.) Asbestos

While most people know that asbestos is linked to mesothelioma, a specific type of lung disease, asbestos can also cause lung cancer. Nonsmokers who work with asbestos have a five times greater risk of developing lung cancer than other nonsmokers. Asbestos can be found in car brakes, old building materials, and natural deposits.

3.) Arsenic

Sometimes used in the treatment of cancer, arsenic is also a carcinogen linked to elevated risks of lung cancer.

2.) Radon

Radon is among the biggest causes of fatal lung cancer, especially for non-smokers. About 21,000 people die each year from lung cancer to due radon exposure, and 2,900 of them are non-smokers.

1.) Smoking Cigarettes

Cigarettes increase all of the above risks many fold and are the leading cause of lung cancer. About 80% fatal lung cancer cases in men and 90% in women were caused by smoking cigarettes. The sooner you quit, the sooner your lungs begin to heal and your risk lowers—though of course, those who have never smoked will always be at a lower risk. Smoking increases your risk of lung cancer to about 20 times higher than that of nonsmokers.