Lung Cancer Risk Factors

A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. Several risk factors make a person more likely to develop lung cancer:

  • Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, with nearly 90 percent of lung cancers thought to be a result of smoking.

Additional risk factors include:

  • secondhand smoke - breathing in the smoke of others
  • smoking marijuana cigarettes, which:
    • contain more tar than tobacco cigarettes.
    • are inhaled very deeply.
    • are smoked all the way to the end where tar content is the highest.
    Because marijuana is an illegal substance, it is not possible to control whether it contains fungi, pesticides, and other additives.
  • recurring inflammation, such as from tuberculosis and some types of pneumonia
  • asbestos exposure
  • talcum powder While no increased risk of lung cancer has been found from the use of cosmetic talcum powder, some studies of talc miners and millers suggest a higher risk of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases from their exposure to industrial grade talc. Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral that, in its natural form, may contain asbestos. Although, by law, all home-use talcum products (baby, body, and facial powders) have been asbestos-free.
  • cancer-causing agents in the workplace, including:
    • radioactive ores such as uranium
    • arsenic
    • vinyl chloride
    • nickel chromates
    • coal products
    • mustard gas
    • chloromethyl ethers
    • fuels such as gasoline
    • diesel exhaust
  • radon - a radioactive gas that cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled. It is produced by the natural breakdown of uranium.
  • personal history of lung cancer
  • air pollution In some cities, air pollution may slightly increase the risk of lung cancer.