What are the other possible risk factors for lung cancer?
Though cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, there are other possible risk factors, which may include the following:
- Exposure to secondhand smoke (passive smoking): This exposure especially affects the family members of smokers who have a higher risk of developing lung cancer.
- Age: Increasing age is a risk factor for many cancers, including lung cancer. The average age in the United States for a lung cancer diagnosis is around 70 years. About 10% of lung cancer cases occur in people younger than 50 years old.
- Exposure to unsafe chemicals at the workplace: Chemicals such as asbestos, coal gas, chromium, nickel, arsenic, vinyl chloride, and mustard gas may cause lung cancer. However, experts disagree on how much exposure to these carcinogens is dangerous.
- Exposure to unsafe levels of radon gas: Radon gas is a radioactive gas produced from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks. It is present in the air we breathe.
- Personal or family history of lung cancer: Personal history and immediate family history of cancer may increase the chances of lung cancer.
- Radiation therapy to the chest: Cancer survivors who had radiation therapy to the chest are at higher risk of lung cancer.
- Diet: Scientists are studying many different foods and dietary supplements to see whether they change the risk of getting lung cancer. Smokers who take beta-carotene supplements have an increased risk of lung cancer. In addition, arsenic in drinking water (primarily from private wells) can increase the risk of lung cancer.
- Other lung diseases: People with a history of certain other diseases of the lung, such as tuberculosis (TB) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are at increased risk of developing lung cancer.
- Marijuana: Few studies and researches point out that there is a biological plausibility for the enhanced risk of lung cancer associated with marijuana.