Most people know that smoking causes cancer, but may not realize how many nonsmokers get lung cancer, too.
Lung cancer affects nonsmokers as well as smokers. Every year, about 16,000 to 24,000 Americans die of lung cancer, even though they have never smoked.
Radon Gas - The leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is exposure to radon gas. Radon occurs naturally outdoors in harmless amounts, but sometimes becomes concentrated in homes built on soil with natural uranium deposits. Studies have found that the risk of lung cancer is higher in those who have lived for many years in a radon-contaminated house.
Secondhand Smoke - Each year, an estimated 3,400 nonsmoking adults die of lung cancer as a result of breathing secondhand smoke. Laws that ban smoking in public places have helped to reduce this danger.
Cancer-Causing Agents at Work - For some people, the workplace is a source of exposure to carcinogens like asbestos and diesel exhaust. Work-related exposure to such cancer-causing materials has decreased in recent years, as the government and industry have taken steps to help protect workers. But the dangers are still present, and if you work around these agents, you should be careful to limit your exposure whenever possible.
Air Pollution - It’s long been known that both indoor and outdoor air pollution contribute to lung cancer. The World Health Organization has classified outdoor air pollution as a cancer-causing agent.
Gene Mutations - An article published in Clinical Cancer Research explains that a particular kind of gene mutation is much more common in lung cancer in nonsmokers than smokers. This mutation activates a gene that normally helps cells grow and divide. The mutation causes the gene to be turned on constantly, so the lung cancer cells grow faster.