Lung cancer is an enemy to be reckoned with and currently a leading cause of cancer-related death in both men and women.
What is lung cancer?
Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or both lungs.
There are two main types of lung cancer. One is small cell lung cancer (SCLC), and the other is non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). There is also a third type, which includes both CPPC and NSCLC. It is small cell and large cell carcinoma. The most common type of cancer is NSCLC which accounts for about 87 percent of all cancers.
What are the symptoms of lung cancer?
Here are the most common symptoms of lung cancer:
- – Persistent cough that does not go away
- – Shortness of breath
- – The appearance of wheezing
- – Recurrent pneumonia or bronchitis
- – Bloody cough
- – Hoarseness
- – Weight loss or loss of appetite
Unfortunately, none of these symptoms will give you enough warning to prevent the disease before it strikes. Symptoms usually do not appear and a diagnosis is not made until the disease is at an advanced stage. This means that you need to be proactive about your health so that you can prevent these symptoms from ever having a chance to appear. Smoking is by far the most important cause of lung cancer. Smokers have higher risks of lung, breast, throat, stomach and other cancers, as well as heart attacks, strokes, emphysema, asthma and set of other diseases. A person who smokes more than one pack of cigarettes a day has a 20 to 25 times greater risk of developing lung cancer than a person who has never smoked. And while not all lung cancers are caused by cigarettes, 85 to 90 percent of them are. It is an easily preventable disease.
Some think that only smokers get lung cancer. Although it is true that cigarette smoking is the most important risk factor for lung cancer, you can contract this disease in a number of other ways. Even if you don’t smoke, you may be at significant risk of developing lung cancer if one or more of the following risk factors are present:
- – Radon exposure
- – Exposure to asbestos
- – Atmospheric pollution
- – Exposure to other chemicals
1) Radon and lung cancer
Radon is a radioactive gas that is naturally released from the earth’s crust. It accumulates in poorly ventilated spaces such as basements and garages. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking, and the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Your chances of getting lung cancer from radon mainly depend on:
- – Radon levels in your home
- – The time you spend at home
- – Whether you are a smoker or have ever smoked
Logically, smokers are in a much worse situation with regard to their increased risk of cancer due to radon because their lungs are already damaged. Children and developing fetuses are also particularly vulnerable to radiation, as it can cause other forms of cancer as well.
2) Asbestos and lung cancer
Exposure to asbestos is also a risk factor for contracting lung cancer. Asbestos is a mineral that occurs in the form of long, thin fibers in the environment. Despite the ban on asbestos in the 1980s due to its health hazards, it was still used in a large number of industrial and insulation materials as a flame retardant, and much of this work is still there. Many people have unknowingly come into contact with asbestos, sometimes while working in their attic to put insulation in place, or perhaps moving the insulation around during repairs or renovations. Others are exposed to asbestos as factory workers, or possibly as members of a construction crew tearing down an old building or ship.
The disease that develops from chronic exposure to asbestos, and sometimes from exposure to other environmental toxins, is known as mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is cancer of your lung wall. Mesothelioma develops when malignant cells grow in your mesothelium, the protective lining that covers most of your body’s internal organs. Its most common location is the pleura, which is the outer lining of your lungs and the inner lining of your rib cage. A protective mask is essential if you work in a risk area, and you should also be very careful if you regularly work in clothing that has been worn in a risk area.
3) Air pollution and lung cancer
Although air pollution is a less common cause of lung cancer than the two previous causes discussed, there are cases where air pollution can lead to serious lung disorders like lung cancer. Researchers reviewed the medical records of 50,000 adults for nearly two decades, and analyzed data on annual levels of air pollution in the cities in which the participants lived. They took into account other risk factors for heart and lung disease such as smoking, diet, weight, and occupation. Lung cancer death rates were compared with average pollution levels, as measured in micrograms per cubic meter of air. It emerged a clearly unfavorable factor for people living in the air pollution of large cities or industries.
4) Environmental Chemical Exposure and Lung Cancer
Every day more and more chemicals are added to your total body burden. Is it any wonder that there has been such an increase in lung problems and diseases? A study highlighting the effects of environmental pollution found that dry cleaners had a 25 percent higher risk of death from cancer than the general population. These employees had a higher risk of tongue, lung and cervical cancer, as well as pneumonia when exposed to perchlorethylene alone. Another study cited the exposure of factory workers to beryllium, a metal frequently used in the manufacture of sporting goods, dental equipment and aircraft parts, as being responsible for causing lung disease and lung cancer. Up to 30 percent of workers who were sensitized to the metal died from chronic beryllium disease, or its complications. Additionally, a recent study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine confirmed the link between beryllium exposure and lung cancer.