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Causes of Lung Cancer

Causes of lung cancer

The etiology, or the root cause of lung cancer, is not always evident. Although tobacco smoking is the primary etiological factor, scientists agree that many lung cancers have no single cause, but are instead the result of a combination of several causes that may include exposure to radon, asbestos, environmental tobacco smoke, and exposures to other hazardous materials. Don't just assume that your lung cancer was caused by smoking alone. Lung cancer is also a significant health problem among patients who have never smoked.

You could have been exposed to carcinogens decades ago, and many people with lung cancer cannot easily remember these exposures. Even if you are or have been a smoker, or if you have never smoked, you may be entitled to compensation. Call us at 1-800-258-1054 to determine if and where you came into contact with hazardous materials that could have increased your risk for lung cancer.

Smoking can be the cause of lung cancer but it also can be the enabler. Smoking weakens the lungs and reduces their capacity to get rid of toxins. These weakened lungs become much more susceptible and vulnerable to attack by carcinogens. For example, someone who is a smoker is 11 times more likely to get lung cancer relative to a non-smoker but close to 60 times more likely to get lung cancer if exposed to asbestos AND is a smoker.

Other Causes of Lung Cancer

Radon. A gaseous decay product of radium-226 and uranium-238, radon can damage the respiratory epithelium (the cells that line the lungs) through alpha particle emissions (a form of radiation). Uranium miners face an increased risk of lung cancer, probably due to radon radiation. Many members of the armed forces came into contact with depleted uranium and radon during military service, as did employees of defense contractors. See our pages on radon as a cause of lung cancer, and uranium as a cause of lung cancer.

Secondhand smoke. Also referred to as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), secondhand smoke has been identified as a significant risk factor for lung cancer in the case of never smokers. Experts estimate that 15 to 35 percent of lung cancer cases among never smokers are associated with ETS. More on secondhand smoke as a cause of lung cancer. Between smoking and secondhand smoke, the Centers for Disease Control estimate that 87% of US lung cancer cases are caused by tobacco. Never-smokers can get lung cancer, too.

Asbestos. Asbestos is a known cause of lung cancer and other types of cancer. The asbestos fibers can become airborne and get in your lungs. Often the cancer doesn’t show up until decades after exposure. Asbestos is also a cause of lung cancer. If you have lung cancer and were exposed to asbestos, even decades ago, you may be eligible for compensation. Click here to learn more.

Pesticides, especially the mixture called Agent Orange. Agent Orange was sprayed from airplanes during the Vietnam War and became airborne, entering the lungs of ground troops. The Department of Veterans Affairs has acknowledged that Agent Orange is carcinogenic and provides benefits for qualified cancer patients with a history of exposure. See our page on Agent Orange as a cause of lung cancer.

Heavy metals. These include cadmium, chromium, and arsenic. Heavy metals are in many products and waste streams. Arsenic has been identified as a causative factor for lung cancer when it contaminates drinking water, as seen in areas of Chile and Taiwan. The United States lowered permissible arsenic levels in drinking water several years ago due to health concerns. See our page on heavy metals as a cause of lung cancer.

Air pollutants present, for instance, in smoke from burning coal and vapors from cooking oil have been associated with lung cancer. There are hundreds of chemical constituents in smoke and combustion products. Even the experts don’t know all of the carcinogenic ones, but it is clear that there is a connection. See our page on hydrocarbons as a cause of lung cancer.

Compensation information is available for those diagnosed with lung cancer. Call us toll-free at 1-800-258-1054.

Read more about:
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
»Exposures to Carcinogens Causing Lung Cancer
»Screening for Lung Cancer
»Diagnosis of Lung Cancer
»Risk Factors