What Causes Lung Cancer
Cigarette smoking is the No. 1 risk factor for lung cancer, causing about 90 percent of lung cancer cases.
Every time you inhale cigarette smoke, you breathe in chemicals that damage your lung tissue and can turn normal cells into cancer cells over time,says a board-certified medical oncologist and director of the Lung Cancer Program at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.
Other causes of lung cancer, in addition to cigarette smoking, include:
Smoking pipes and cigars
Inhaling secondhand smoke
Exposure to radon, a radioactive gas found in the ground that can seep into groundwater and homes
Exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral found in some commercial building products
Lung Cancer Awareness With The U Of M: Smoking Radon And Cancer Treatment And Prevention
Lung Cancer Awareness Month is recognized every year during the month of November. The Masonic Cancer Center and University of Minnesota, including the Medical School and the School of Public Health, have a number of renowned lung cancer researchers and doctors in our ranks, covering everything from lung cancer treatment, screening, and even prevention.
Lung cancer is still the top cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, in fact, lung cancer kills more people in the United States annually than breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers combined, said Naomi Fujioka, MD, associate professor with the U of M Medical Schools Division of Hematology, Oncology, and Transplantation and a medical oncologist. This is important to note because it’s a disease that’s stigmatized and research is underfunded despite the significant burden on Americans.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that, besides directly inhaling tobacco smoke, other risk factors include exposure to other peoples smoke , radon, air pollution, a family history of lung cancer, and asbestos. Approximately 10% to 20% of diagnosed lung cancer in the U.S. occur in people who never smoked or smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime.
Be Aware Of Pancreatic Cancer
In looking at the gap between the number of cases of cancer diagnosed, and the death rates from cancer, it’s clear that pancreatic cancer is in some ways “the forgotten cancer.” It’s not on our radar as one of the Top 10 diagnosed cancers, yet it falls in at No. 3 for cancer deaths in men and women combined.
Just as you hear that it’s important to examine your breasts, or to talk to your healthcare provider about prostate screening if you are a man, it’s important for everyone to know the early symptoms of pancreatic cancer.
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The Risk Of Living With Radon
Scientists are more certain about radon risks than from most other cancer-causing substances.
Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. As they break down further, these particles release small bursts of energy. This can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer over the course of your lifetime. Not everyone exposed to elevated levels of radon will develop lung cancer. And the amount of time between exposure and the onset of the disease may be many years.
Like other environmental pollutants, there is some uncertainty about the magnitude of radon health risks. However, we know more about radon risks than risks from most other cancer-causing substances. This is because estimates of radon risks are based on studies of cancer in humans .
Children have been reported to have greater risk than adults of certain types of cancer from radiation, but there are currently no conclusive data on whether children are at greater risk than adults from radon.
Your chances of getting lung cancer from radon depend mostly on:
- How much radon is in your home
- The amount of time you spend in your home
- Whether you are a smoker or have ever smoked
Studies Find Direct Evidence Linking Radon In Homes To Lung Cancer
Two studies show definitive evidence of an association between residential radon exposure and lung cancer. Two studies, a North American study and a European study, both combined data from several previous residential studies. These two studies go a step beyond earlier findings. They confirm the radon health risks predicted by occupational studies of underground miners who breathed radon for a period of years.
Early in the debate about radon-related risks, some researchers questioned whether occupational studies could be used to calculate risks from exposure to radon in the home environment. These findings effectively end any doubts about the risks to Americans of having radon in their homes, said Tom Kelly, Former Director of EPAs Indoor Environments Division. We know that radon is a carcinogen. This research confirms that breathing low levels of radon can lead to lung cancer.
- Read the “Iowa Radon Lung Cancer Study” by Dr. William Field on radon-related lung cancer in women.
- Read the “Radon in Homes and Risk of Lung Cancer: Collaborative Analysis of Individual Data from 13 European case-control studies” by Dr. David Hill.
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Can Radon Gas Cause Cancer
Radon is a natural radioactive gas that can build up indoors. If indoor radon builds up to high levels, it can increase the risk of lung cancer.
- But most radon-related lung cancers are caused by the combined effects of smoking and indoor radon gas.
Levels of indoor radon gas in most UK homes are low, but some may have higher levels.
Does Radon Cause Breast Cancer
Naturally-occurring radon can be found at higher than recommended levels in some peoples homes. A recent US study examined a potential link between radon exposure and breast cancer to help shed light on the question does radon cause breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death among women worldwide. There are different types of breast tumors according to their responsiveness to various hormones and the expression of proteins. Most breast cancers are estrogen-receptor positive and grow in response to the hormone estrogen. About two-thirds of these are also progesterone-receptor positive. In about a fifth of breast cancers, the cells make too much of a protein known as HER2. Between 10-20% of breast cancers are triple-negative, which means there are no estrogen and progesterone receptors and no expression of the HER2 protein. Some geographic variations of breast cancer incidence suggest that environmental factors may also play a role in its development.
High levels of naturally-occurring radon found in some homes
Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas found in air, soil, rocks, and water. The main source of indoor radon is from soil gas entering homes through foundation cracks.
They recently the results in the journal Environmental Health.
Assessing associations between radon exposure and breast cancer
Environmental radon exposure not associated with overall risk of breast cancer
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World Health Organization’s International Radon Project
The World Health Organization says radon causes up to 15% of lung cancers worldwide. In an effort to reduce the rate of lung cancer around the world, the World Health Organization launched an international radon project to help countries increase awareness, collect data and encourage action to reduce radon-related risks.
The U.S. EPA is one of several government agencies and countries supporting this initiative and is encouraged by WHOs attention to this important public health issue.
“Radon poses an easily reducible health risk to populations all over the world, but has not up to now received widespread attention,” said Dr. Michael Repacholi, coordinator of WHOs Radiation and Environmental Health Unit. He went on to say that “radon in our homes is the main source of exposure to ionizing radiation, and accounts for 50% of the publics exposure to naturally-occurring sources of radiation in many countries.”
The Lung Cancer Crisis
After smoking “radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.” Among non-smokers, radon is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer deaths.
Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of all Americans, both men and women, claiming 160,000 lives every year – more than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer combined. Over 171,000 new lung cancers are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
|The leading three causes of cancer deaths|
Lung cancer is the deadliest of all cancers its 5-year survival rate is only 10 to 14 percent. By the time people develop symptoms , the cancer has grown to the size of an orange or has spread to other organs. While the death rates for many types of cancer have been declining during the last 60 years, the age-adjusted incidence and mortality rates for lung cancer have been rising.
There is a lung cancer crisis, particularly among women. Lung cancer deaths have increased by 20% among men during the past two decades but by 150% among women, and in the 1990’s alone, lung cancer deaths of white females have increased 60%.
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A Single Radon Atom Can Cause Lung Cancer
Carcinogens cause random damage to the chromosomes and DNA molecules contained in the nucleus of the cell. Most of these cells are either killed or sterilized. However, in a very few cases, one of these damaged cells may survive the injury and still be capable of reproducing. Such a cell may begin to proliferate in an undifferentiated or “cancerous” manner. Most cancers are of monoclonal origin, that is, they originate from damage to a single cell.
Even a single alpha particle can cause major genomic changes to the cell’s DNA, including mutation and transformation. Since these effects take place in a random manner at the cellular level, there is no such thing as a “harmless” dose. Even allowing for a substantial degree of cell repair, the passage of a single alpha particle has the potential to trigger cancerous growth of cells that it does not kill outright.
A Conversation With R William Field Phd And Humberto Choi Md
R. William Field, PhD
Humberto Choi, MD
The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that about 21,000 people die each year of lung cancer related to radon gas exposure, making it the second leading cause of lung cancer death in the United States. Although the EPA and various other organizations, including the National Radon Safety Board, have recommended wide-scale radon screening in domestic residences at risk for exposure, national efforts to reduce radon concentrations, including programs that promote radon-resistant new home construction, have been curtailed by budgetary cuts.
However, according to R. William Field, PhD, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa City, protracted exposure to radon decay products is the leading environmental cause of cancer mortality in the United States. In a recent interview with The ASCO Post, Dr. Field explained more about exposure to radon: Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. The magnitude of the radon concentration indoors is directly related to the amount of radon produced in the underlying soil and bedrock, the soils permeability, and the buildings construction. The air pressure inside homes is slightly lower than in the ground, which draws radon gas into the basement through cracks and other penetrations in the buildings foundation.
A Brief History
More Research Needed
DISCLOSURE: Drs. Field and Choi reported no conflicts of interest.
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Get Your Home Tested For Radon
Lung cancer is a very serious condition.
The outlook for people diagnosed with lung cancer isn’t bright, so people need to do all they can to remove all the risk factors.
The first thing people need to do is stop smoking.
The second thing they should do is have their home tested for elevated levels of radon.
An experienced radon technician will come to your house and test your levels for you.
If you do have elevated levels, they will discuss the next step with you, which often involves mitigation.
If you’re ready to talk to an expert about radon to make sure you aren’t at risk of developing lung cancer, contact Radon Eliminator today.
Radon Gas Is The Most Potent Carcinogen In Your Home
You cannot see radon gas. And you cannot smell it or taste it. But it may be a problem in your home. As the only gas in the decay chains of radioactive heavy metals, radon and its floating radioactive products can easily get into human body by inhalation. Whenever you breathe in air containing radon, it increases your risk of getting lung cancer. The National Academy of Sciences and the Environment Protection Agency estimate that in the U.S., radon in homes causes 21,100 lung cancer deaths each year.More on How Radon Gas Sneaks into Homes
Radiation is called the “complete carcinogen” because, unlike chemical carcinogens, it alone can initiate, promote and propagate cancer. The primary site of radioactive exposure to most people is their home. The average person receives a higher radiation dose from radon at home than from all other natural or man-made sources combined.
Radon is a proven and very potent “Class A” carcinogen. Safety limits on toxins or carcinogens in food or water are set at levels thousand times less lethal than what is the risk from radon in an average American home. “Radon in homes causes more deaths than fires, drownings and airplane crashes combined.”
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Exposure To Radon Causes Lung Cancer In Non
- Lung cancer kills thousands of Americans every year. Smoking, radon, and secondhand smoke are the leading causes of lung cancer. Although lung cancer can be treated, the survival rate is one of the lowest for those with cancer. From the time of diagnosis, between 11 and 15 percent of those afflicted will live beyond five years, depending upon demographic factors. In many cases lung cancer can be prevented.
- Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. Smoking causes an estimated 160,000* cancer deaths in the U.S. every year . And the rate among women is rising. On January 11, 1964, Dr. Luther L. Terry, then U.S. Surgeon General, issued the first warning on the link between smoking and lung cancer. Lung cancer now surpasses breast cancer as the number one cause of death among women. A smoker who is also exposed to radon has a much higher risk of lung cancer.
- Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to EPA estimates. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked. On January 13, 2005, Dr. Richard H. Carmona, the U.S. Surgeon General, issued a national health advisory on radon.
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Radon Exposure And Lung Cancer Risk
Exposure to radon gas in our homespossible anywhere in the world and in all 50 statesis thought to be the second leading cause of lung cancer overall, and the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Since lung cancer in never smokers is the 6th leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, these are not small numbers.
Hearing the word radon may put a picture of miners in your head, but in fact, the greatest risk is to those who spend the most time in the home. Radon is present in varying degrees in the rock beneath our homes. Most radon exposure occurs due to radon that seeps into our homes through the foundation by way of cracks, sump pumps, and drains.
When released into the air outside, radon diffuses widely, and is less of a problem. When trapped in our homes, however, the levels can build up abnormally high, and eventually, lead to cancer.
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What If Your Granite Countertops Are Emitting Radon
Even if your granite countertops are emitting a significant amount of radon, this does not necessarily mean they need to be removed. Ventilation techniques to improve indoor air might lower the radon level to acceptable levels.
If you are still concerned that your granite countertops may be raising the radon level in your home after mitigation, there are a few options. The EPA suggests that you hire a certified radon professional to test for other sources of radon in your home in addition to granite countertops. The American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists has a list of qualified professionals. It’s important to note that, according to the EPA, some of the measurements currently being used are not very accurate.
Radon Reduction Techniques For New Construction
If one is building in an area known to have a high probability of elevated radon levels, there are certain steps that can be taken during construction that will reduce the radon levels. If one is building in an area known to have a high probability of elevated radon levels, Radon Resistant New Construction techniques can be taken during construction that will reduce the radon levels.
The Building Radon Out contains information on how to incorporate these techniques and materials in residential construction. Essentially this will consist of a layer of semipermeable material such as gravel under the foundation, a 6 mil or thicker layer of plastic between the gravel under the foundation and the concrete, a 3″ or 4″ PVC pipe through the foundation floor, a roughed in electrical box in the attic, and sealing and caulking of all openings in the concrete floor.
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The Glow Of Ionizing Radiation
Most of the radiation dose to humans is not from radon itself but from the radon daughters, most notably Polonium-218 , and Po-214 , along with Bismuth-214 . A half-life is the time period in which a half of the atoms decays into another element the shorter the half-life, the more intense radiation. The radon daughter particles go through the decay chain of radioactive heavy metals until a half of the atoms finally reach the stable non-radioactive Lead-206 after more than 22 years. More on Radon Gas Is All Around Us
At each step of the decay chain the radon progeny particles emit ionizing radiation – alpha and beta particles, and gamma rays. Ionizing radiation, which has enough power to knock out electrons from atoms and convert them to ions, kills or damages living cells, causing genetic mutations and cancer.
The inhaled radon daughter particles accumulate in the lungs and tracheobronchial tree, particularly in bifurcations. Since the bulky alpha particles cannot penetrate more than a fraction of a millimeter into the lung tissue before smashing into an atom, damage is concentrated on the epithelial cells in the immediate area. The result of such concentrated radiation is much more severe than if the radioactive dose was distributed throughout the whole body.