When people think of lung cancer, the first thing to pop into their minds as a cause is smoking cigarettes. Though it is true that smoking and lung cancer are linked, being a smoker is not the only way to develop this disease. Many non-smokers have suffered from lung cancer, due to contaminants in the very air they breathe, which some people are still not even aware can cause such a horrendous illness.
Even if a person does not smoke, they are still forced to breathe in the chemicals when they are around a smoker in their home, at work, or out in public. Despite what many believe, breathing second-hand smoke is just as harmful as smoking, because what is being exhaled by the smoker contains all the same toxic chemicals they are breathing in. Thousands of non-smokers die from lung cancer each year, just from breathing in other people’s smoke.
Breathing extremely polluted air can be just as harmful for developing lung cancer in an otherwise healthy person as second-hand smoke, and the longer a person is exposed to it, the higher the risk. Air pollution can be found anywhere, because of the abundance of vehicles on the road, as well as manufacturing companies and other types of businesses that release such toxins into the air. Power plants are also part of the air pollution problem. Due to the high levels of air pollution, especially in larger cities, there are thousands dying from lung cancer caused by pollution every year.
Radon gas occurs naturally with the decay of uranium buried in the earth, and can travel through the soil, up into the air. It then leaks into buildings and homes through even the smallest openings, including drains, pipes, foundations, and even dirt floors. Due to the fact that it is tasteless, odorless and invisible, anyone breathing radon gas will not be aware of it until a radon test has been completed. It has been estimated by the EPA that 1 in 15 homes in the United States contain high levels of radon gas, which is extremely dangerous for all who live there. In fact, there are between 15,000 and 22,000 deaths from lung-cancer each year that have been related to radon gas.
A naturally occurring mineral, asbestos was used all over the world for many purposes. This was due to its versatility and strength, and because of its heat resistance. When woven into a fabric and then mixed with cement, it became a popular form of insulation. Unfortunately, when the asbestos fibers are broken, they can be inhaled into the lungs, and such fibers can remain there for a lifetime. This can then lead to lung cancer, as well as another type of cancer called mesothelioma. Non-smokers are 5 times more likely to develop lung cancer from exposure to asbestos than any other non-smoker.
With so many ways to develop lung cancer, it is a wonder why cigarettes are the only thing advertised as harmful, especially for non-smokers who may not be exposed to them as often as they are to any of the other harmful toxins in the air. Knowledge is key, and reducing these other chemicals is the only way to help limit the instances of lung cancer in those who have never touched a cigarette.