The air we breathe is what keeps us alive. And the quality of that air is critical. Anything that"s smoked or vaped, whether it"s you or someone you"re near, changes the air quality. And that impacts how well your lungs can function, especially over time.
If you"re a smoker or used to smoke, live with a smoker, or are facing a lung cancer diagnosis, here's what you need to know about tobacco and lung cancer, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
Smoking is the Primary Cause of Developing Lung Cancer
Almost all (80-90%) of people who die from lung cancer have a history of smoking. That includes current smokers, past smokers, and people who breathe tobacco smoke at home or in the workplace (secondhand smoke). Smoking cigars, pipes or e-cigarettes, vaping, and using chewing tobacco are all linked to cancer. Smokers are up to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer than non-smokers.
Tobacco and Lung Cancer
Tobacco smoke damages the cells lining the lungs. Smoke contains more than 70 chemicals that are known to cause cancer. When smoke enters your lungs, the cells begin to change immediately. At first, your body can repair the damage. However, as the cells become more and more damaged with more smoking, they can develop into cancer.
Second-Hand Smoke Causes Lung Cancer
Secondhand smoke is the second biggest risk factor for developing lung cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that secondhand smoke causes more than 7,000 cancer deaths each year.
Electronic Cigarette & Vaping
Data continues to mount about the dangers of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and vaping. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 60 incidents of people using vape pens (vaping) becoming gravely ill. The chemicals in e-cig vapors cause lung damage. And, because it"s a water-based vapor, it penetrates more deeply into the lungs (versus just the lining), causing more damage.
Other Causes of Lung Cancer
The other 10 to 20% of lung cancers are caused by:
Previous radiation treatment to the chest area
Exposure to radon gas, an odorless gas produced naturally in some soils, can accumulate in homes or buildings and mix with the air you breathe
Exposure to asbestos, a building material that is still inside many older homes and buildings
Exposure to diesel exhaust, arsenic, chromium, or nickel
Family history of lung cancer
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