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Lung cancer risk factors you can control

Lower your risk for developing lung cancer by not smoking, or quitting smoking if you already do; by avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke; and by checking your home for radon gas.

November 12, 2018

The main cause for lung cancer is tobacco use — it remains the largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States.

Prevention and screening are key in the fight against lung cancer. If you are, or were, a smoker, there are still things you can do to help yourself live a healthier life and do all you can now to lower your risk for developing lung cancer.

Q: How much does smoking increase my chance of developing lung cancer?
A: Smoking is the number-one cause of lung cancer and is linked to approximately 90 percent of lung cancer cases each year. Male and female smokers are 25 times more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer than those who have never smoked.

Q: If I am a smoker, what is the benefit to quitting?

A: The longer you smoke and the more packs you smoke, the greater your risk is for developing lung cancer. Quitting smoking greatly improves your health and decreases your risk for lung cancer, as well as many other health issues. Ten years after quitting smoking, the risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. In fact, quitting smoking can significantly improve your health as soon as 20 minutes after your last cigarette.

Q: Besides tobacco, what else causes lung cancer?

A: Radon gas exposure is the second-leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is a tasteless, colorless, odorless radioactive gas that exists naturally in soil. It enters buildings through gaps and cracks in walls or foundations. Be sure to have your house tested for this type of exposure.

Q: Does second-hand smoke cause lung cancer?
A: Yes — regular exposure to second-hand smoke can increase your risk of lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent. Approximately 3,000 lung cancer-related deaths occur each year among adult nonsmokers in the U.S. as a result of exposure to second-hand smoke.

Q: Can smokeless tobacco products cause cancer?
A: Yes — smokeless tobacco, like chewing tobacco, can cause oral cancer, esophageal cancer and pancreatic cancer.

Q: Is vaping safer than smoking cigarettes?

A: E-cigarettes have been shown to have less nicotine in them than regular cigarettes, but still are not a good alternative to quitting smoking altogether. Currently, there are no regulations on e-cigarette manufacturers, or the ingredients in them and there has not been enough research completed on them to prove their safety.

November 12, 2018

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