According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is still one of the most prevalent forms of cancer today. Even after all of the thousands of anti-smoking campaigns and a huge decrease in the number of smokers, it is expected that there will be more than 215,000 new cases diagnosed this year, and there will be nearly 162,000 deaths.
In 1991 (the latest year that I could find statistics for), 27% of Americans were smokers. That compares to 29% in 1987 and 44% in 1964. The decrease is because of more people quitting the smoking habit, and NOT because of fewer people starting the smoking habit. It’s obvious that all of the efforts to prevent people from becoming smokers have not been successful.
Cigarette smoking is considered the number one cause of the disease. There are substances in smoke that cause damage to lung cells. Because of this, smoking cigarettes, pipes, or cigars does cause the disease, and this is why it is also true that secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer in nonsmokers. The more often a person is exposed to tobacco smoke, the greater the risk of lung cancer.
However, cigarette smoking is not the only cause. Researchers have also determined that exposure to radon is a big risk factor for developing the disease. Radon is found in mines as well as in various parts of the country in the rock and soil. Radon is a radioactive gas that is colorless, odorless, and tasteless.
Exposure to asbestos is another cause of this disease. People who work at such jobs in the construction and chemical industries are most at risk for exposure to asbestos that can cause lung cancer.
A family history of lung cancer, even in people who have never smoked, also creates a higher risk for developing the disease.