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Lung Cancer - Causes & Risk Factors

There are several environmental and individual risk factors responsible for lung cancer. About 87% of lung cancers are caused due to smoking and inhaling carcinogens from tobacco. Exposure to second hand smoke (passive smoking) can also damage cells and may lead to cancer development.

Lung Cancer - Causes & Risk Factors

Lung cancer can also happen in people who have never smoked in life or been around with people who smoked.

A number of risk factors for lung cancer are noticed and researched upon, some of which are under our control, while few are not. Few major lung cancer causes can be,


The biggest and modifiable risk factor of lung cancer is cigarette smoking. Risk of lung cancer increases with each smoked cigarette. Quitting at any time or in any age can significantly lower the risk of developing lung cancer.

The risk of developing lung cancer due to smoking is related to the following factors:

  • number of cigarettes smoked
  • age at which a person started smoking
  • how long he/she has been smoking or had smoked before quitting

Passive Smoking

Exposure to second hand smoke or passive smoking is also a huge risk factor for lung cancer. Continuous and long term exposure to passive smoking in the surroundings is enough to make the person inhale carcinogens potent enough to cause cancer of lung and bronchi.

Exposure to Radon Gas

Radon is a by product of natural breakdown of uranium (in soil), rocks and water and becomes the part of the air we breathe. At times this gas can get trapped inside houses and tall buildings. High level of radon is unsafe for humans and is considered the second commonest cause of lung cancer.

Asbestos & Other Chemicals

Exposure to asbestos at workplace and from other substances like arsenic, chromium and nickel is known to increase the risk of causing lung cancer. Smokers exposed to such harmful chemicals are more prone to developing it.

Family History of Lung Cancer

It may run in families. There is a familial predisposition to this and if parent, sibling or children of a person suffer from lung cancer, there is an increased chance for him as well to acquire it genetically.

Past History of Lung Disease

History of lung diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may also create an increased risk for lung cancer. A person with COPD is 4 to 6 times more prone and at greater risk of lung cancer. Someone who has had history of lung cancer is more likely and susceptible to develop it again.

Exposure to X-rays

Excessive exposure to radiation can sometimes become a cause of lung cancer. Radiation therapy around chest area or frequent x rays may become responsible for causing lung cancer.

Air Pollution

Long standing exposure to harsh air pollution from motor vehicles, factories, and other sources probably may lead to lung cancer in some individuals.

To live healthy & happy, one must keep a check on the body’s functioning by going for regular health checkups. This helps in assessing risk factors and diagnosing diseases at an early stage, which will result in effective treatment and better management of the condition.

Know your complete health status by comprehensive checkup packages designed and facilitated by Indus Health Plus, the preventive checkup specialist.

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