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Risk Factors for Cancer Deaths - Lung Cancer

Risk Factors

Smoking is by far the leading risk factor for lung cancer. At least 80% of lung cancer deaths are thought to result from smoking. The risk for lung cancer among smokers is many times higher than among non-smokers. The longer you smoke and the more packs a day you smoke, the greater your risk. Cigar smoking and pipe smoking are almost as likely to cause lung cancer as cigarette smoking. Smoking low-tar or light cigarettes increases lung cancer risk as much as regular cigarettes. There is concern that menthol cigarettes may increase the risk even more since the menthol allows smokers to inhale more deeply. Even if you don't smoke, breathing in the smoke of others (called secondhand smoke) can increase your risk of developing lung cancer by almost 30%. Workers who have been exposed to tobacco smoke in the workplace are also more likely to get lung cancer. Secondhand smoke is thought to cause more than 7,000 deaths from lung cancer each year. After smoking, the next highest risk for lung cancer comes from exposure to radon. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas created by the breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks and cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. However, the risk from radon is much higher in people who smoke than in those who don't. There are other cancer-causing agents found in some work places that can increase lung cancer risk and include: asbestos; radioactive ores such as uranium; and inhaled chemicals or minerals such as arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, silica, vinyl chloride, nickel compounds, chromium compounds, coal products, mustard gas, chloromethyl ethers, and diesel exhaust. A few other factors that can influence a person's risk for lung cancer include: air pollution, radiation therapy to the lungs, arsenic in drinking water, certain dietary supplements, and a personal or family history of lung cancer. Source: American Cancer Society

Related Risk Factors Indicators:

The information provided above is from the New Mexico Department of Health's NM-IBIS web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: "Retrieved Thu, 05 August 2021 from New Mexico Department of Health, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site:".

Content updated: Fri, 21 Dec 2018 12:48:24 MST