What Are the Risk Factors for Lung Cancer?

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

We all know smoking is a risk factor for lung cancer, but what are those risk factors for lung cancer that are not so well-known?

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Don’t forget second hand smoke, too

Exposure to smoke from other people’s smoking can increase your risk of lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent, according to the Lung Cancer Alliance. It's estimated that more than 3,000 people per year die from lung cancer due to second hand smoke.

Radon highlighted on periodic table.
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Radon is lung cancer risk factor

Exposure to radon makes it more likely you will develop lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Radon is naturally occurring radioactive gas that occurs when soil and rocks break down. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer and is the leading cause among non-smokers.

Asbestos warning sign.
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Asbestos exposure can raise your lung cancer risk

People who work with asbestos are several times more likely to die of lung cancer as compared to those who do not. Asbestos is found in mines, mills, textile plants, places where insulation is used, and shipyards. People exposed to asbestos are at a high risk of developing a type of lung cancer called mesothelioma.

Aluminum sheet rolls in factory.
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Industrial chemicals: Not good for lung cancer risk

Some occupations may increase your risk of developing lung cancer. According to the Lung Cancer Alliance, exposure to chemicals used in aluminum and coke production, hairdressing, underground hematite mining, iron and steel founding, painting, production of art glass and glass containers, and the rubber industry can cause lung cancer.

Power plant smokestacks.
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Environmental hazards are also a risk factor in lung cancer

Chemicals in the environment, including arsenic and beryllium, may increase your risk of developing lung cancer. Air pollutions, exhaust from diesel engines, power plants, and industrial plants may also contribute to lung cancer, according to the Lung Cancer Alliance.

Pulmonary tuberculosis x ray.
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Had tuberculosis? You’re at a higher lung cancer risk

Tuberculosis can cause scarring of lung tissue, which may increase your risk of developing lung cancer, according to LungCancer.org.

Doctor reviewing patient family health history.
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Genetics play role in lung cancer

As with many cancers, a family history of lung cancer may play a role in whether you are more prone to develop lung cancer, according to LungCancer.org.

Patient undergoing radiation therapy.
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Previous radiation treatment can raise your lung cancer risk

If you've had radiation therapy to the chest for other types of cancer, for example breast cancer or Hodgkin's lymphoma, you may have a higher risk of developing lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. This is especially true if you smoke.

Beta carotene supplements, carrots, and carrot juice.
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Beta carotene supplement risky for lung cancer

Beta carotene is a supplement often used to reduce the risk of cancer. However, smokers who take beta carotene supplements have an increased risk of developing lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

Military service concept.
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Military service: Even this raises your lung cancer risk

Those who serve in the military have a higher risk of developing lung cancer than the general public. This may because of exposure to asbestos; defoliants; herbicides such as Agent Orange; fuel exhaust; smoke from burning oil wells; kerosene cookers; heaters in enclosed tents; and other battlefield emissions.

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.