Lung Cancer Facts: Know the Risk Factors
As its name suggests, lung cancer refers to a type of cancer that is formed in the lung tissue (particularly in the cells that line the air passages). Lung cancer is known to be the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. For almost three decades now, lung cancer has been the biggest contributor to new cancer diagnosis numbers (and the total deaths from it).
In the US alone, the number of deaths from this cancer constitutes more than the total number of deaths from breast, prostate, and colon cancer each year. Quite alarming, isn’t it?
Are you at risk for lung cancer?
Find out below, as we have listed several risk factors that may increase your chances of acquiring the disease. (Take note that some of these factors are modifiable and controllable, while others are not.)
Smoke exposure and carcinogens
In general, the number one cause of lung cancer in the world is cigarette smoking, accounting for more than 90% of all cases. Other products from tobacco like pipes and cigars also contribute to the development of lung cancer.
Alarmingly, it is also possible to get the disease even if you are not a smoker. Basically, the occurrence of lung cancer in non-smokers may be caused by the exposure to secondhand smoke or the exposure to occupational carcinogens like diesel exhaust, radon, and asbestos.
The development of cancer, whether it is related to the susceptibility to the disease or the actual reaction to chemotherapies, owes a great part to heredity. It has already been scientifically proven that people with family history of lung cancer have higher chances of acquiring the disease because the mutations in the gene can be inherited.
Still, not all inherited changes in the genes are considered to be a cause of lung cancer.
Gender and Age
More often than not, lung cancer is considered to be the disease of the elderly as more than 65% of the total diagnosed patients are aged 65 years old and above. In terms of gender, studies show that women have almost three times higher risk of acquiring the disease than men. While the difference in the mechanism of the disease in both genders is still unknown, it is believed that endocrine functions are an important factor.
Diet and Lifestyle
In general, many scientific studies suggest that diet and lifestyle play a significant role in the development of about 30% of all cancer types. According to a study by Shekelle and Liu, dietary factors like vitamin A and β-carotene have a significant effect against the disease.
On the other hand, the excessive intake of minerals such as zinc, iron, copper, and magnesium is linked with the risk for lung cancer. While their exact roles in the cancer mechanism remain to be unknown, this may serve as a message that the excessive intake of anything is harmful.
Innovative Biotech Companies
All of this brightens the outlook for the future of oncology research. Cancer patients in need can benefit a great deal from these types of communities, and this makes digital health communities an interesting place to watch for investments. Those suffering from lung cancer (and all other types of cancer) can rest a bit easier knowing that these types of innovations are unfolding before our very eyes.
However, having one or more of the risk factors mentioned above does not guarantee the development of lung cancer. Sometimes, people can have at least one of these factors but do not show any sign of development, whereas others with the disease do not even manifest any of the factors. Indeed, it is still best to ask for medical supervision when you are suspecting that you have the disease.