November is lung cancer awareness month. This month is all about educating ourselves about one of the most common and deadly forms of cancer. Most often, lung cancer is associated with smoking. However, according to the American Cancer Society, 20 percent or more of the people who die from the disease every year, have never used any sort of tobacco product.
The aim of this article is to educate readers on three ways they are susceptible to developing lung cancer even if they have never touched a cigarette.
Environmental factors play a major role in every individual’s risk of developing lung cancer. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Radon refers to a colourless and odourless radioactive gas that forms naturally as a result of the decay of radioactive elements such as uranium.
Radon is typically given off by soil or rock with high radioactive characteristics and enter buildings through cracks in the walls or foundation.
Another growing factor is air pollution. It might not be as prominent in countries like the U.S., but Delhi, the capital of India, is facing concerns about a sharp increase in lung cancer cases associated with air pollution.
Non-smokers generally have a significantly lower risk of developing lung cancer. However, they could be increasing said risk with an unhealthy lifestyle. For example, spending extended periods of time in areas where they are exposed to secondhand smoke can exponentially increase that risk.
Another aspect of lifestyle is a person’s diet. Studies have shown that there is a direct link between an unhealthy diet and an increased lung cancer risk. However, The American Cancer Society’s research has shown that incorporating a healthy diet consisting of plenty of fruits and vegetables may actually protect against lung cancer in both smokers and non-smokers.
It is more or less common knowledge that individuals with an immediate family member who has or had lung cancer may be more prone to developing the disease. Certain individuals may also have a genetic disposition to lung cancer. According to The American Cancer Society, some specific genetic mutations are actually more common in non-smoking lung cancer patients than smokers.