Every organ in our body performs its own function to keep it working and fit. Most of the time people are not able to observe the problems with their organs such as lungs in daily life as they are able to breathe without any difficulty. But damage to these important organs can lead to severe health conditions.
Cigarettes can damage the tissue of the lungs, obstructing their capability to perform their role properly. It can elevate the risk of many health conditions such as lung cancer, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
In this article we will discuss the role of smoking in increasing the risk of lung cancer. To understand it completely we will discuss:
• Connection between cigarette smoking and lung cancer
• How smoking causes lung cancer?
• Other risk factors for lung cancer
• Prevention of lung cancer associated with smoking
1. Connection between cigarette smoking and lung cancer
Cigarette smoking is the major cause of lung cancer. The use of other tobacco products can also elevate the risk of lung cancer. Tobacco smoke is a mix of more than 7,000 chemicals and many of them are poisons.
Till now smoking is the major risk factor for lung cancer. It constitutes nearly 80% of lung cancer deaths. Small cell lung cancer grows quickly and can cause the cancer to spread beyond the lung.
Cigarette smokers are much more prone to develop lung cancer than the non-smokers. Even if a person quits smoking they have a higher risk of lung cancer than the risk for people who have never smoked. However, their risk of lung cancer is reduced than if they had continued to smoke. Quitting cigarette smoking at any age can reduce the lung cancer risk.
Cigarette smoking can cause cancer nearly anywhere in the body. It can cause various types of lung cancer and cancer of the esophagus, mouth, throat, stomach, liver, rectum, colon, pancreas and many other body parts. Pipe smoking and cigar smoking have the same effect as cigarette smoking.
Secondhand smoke, which refers to breathing in the smoke of others, even if you don’t smoke it increases the risk of lung cancer. It is a known cause of ear infections, asthma, and respiratory infections in infants and children and sudden infant death syndrome. It is also known as the cause of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke in adult nonsmokers.
Cigarette smoking causes lung cancer by damaging the cells, which line the lungs. Inhaling the cigarette smoke, which is full of carcinogens causes the beginning of variations in the lung tissue instantly.
In the beginning your body may be able to repair the damage. But with every repeated exposure, normal cells, which line the lungs, are more and more damaged. With time, the damage leads to abnormal action of the cells, which results in the development of cancer.
2. How smoking causes lung cancer?
Cigarettes deliver a mixture of chemicals to the lungs, which are absorbed into the bloodstream and transported to each organ in the body.
A lot of these chemicals are able to damage the DNA that controls the reproduction of cells and directs them to perform various functions.
DNA damage can cause the mutation of the cells and their uncontrollable growth. It can lead to the beginning of cancer.
As we have discussed the connection between smoking and lung cancer. Let’s discuss some of its other risk factors.
Other causes of lung cancer:
- Radon: It is a naturally occurring gas, which comes from dirt and rocks and gets trapped in buildings and homes. It cannot be observed, smelled or tasted.
There is little radon outdoors, which is not expected to be dangerous. But indoors, the radon can be more concentrated. Breathing it exposes your lungs to little amounts of radiation, which increases the risk of developing lung cancer.
- Other Substances: There are various substances found at certain workplaces, which elevates the risk of lung cancer such as arsenic, asbestos, diesel exhaust and certain types of chromium and silica. Some of these substances increase the risk of getting lung cancer even more than smoking.
- Personal or Family History of Lung Cancer: A person who had lung cancer earlier has the chances of developing another lung cancer, particularly if you smoke. Therefore, people with lung cancer will always have the risk of developing it again.
- The risk of developing lung cancer is more if your siblings or parents had lung cancer. This may be due to the exposure to secondhand smoke or radon if they live in the same place.
- Radiation Therapy to the Chest: The cancer survivors who had gone through radiation therapy to the chest are at high risk of developing lung cancer.
- Diet: Drinking water containing arsenic, which is mainly found in private wells, can elevate the lung cancer risk.
- Air pollution: Air pollution particularly in cities is thought to increase the risk of developing lung cancer. However, its risk is comparatively very less than the risk due to smoking.
- Talc and talcum powder: Talc is a mineral, which in its natural form might contain asbestos. Various studies show that talc miners and talc mills operators may have a high risk of developing lung cancer and other respiratory disorders as they may get exposed to the industrial grade talc.
Prevention of lung cancer
There is no definite way to prevent the lung cancer, but its risk can be reduced:
- Quit smoking: Quitting smoking can decrease the risk of lung cancer. Consult your doctor to find the stop-smoking aids, which can assist you to stop smoking.
- Avoid secondhand smoke: Living with or working with a person who smokes is also increasing your risk to develop lung cancer. Support the person who smokes to quit smoking. Avoid visiting the areas where people smoke.
- Avoid carcinogens at work: Protect yourself from exposure to toxic chemicals at the workplace. For example, wear a face mask to prevent excess inhaling of toxic chemicals. The risk of developing lung cancer increases from workplace carcinogens if you smoke.
- Eat a healthy diet: Choose to eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables. Avoid administration of vitamin pills in large doses as they can be harmful. Studies reveal that the beta carotene supplements increased the risk of cancer in smokers.
- Exercise regularly: Try to exercise or yoga for most of the days in a week.
Quitting smoking is the best way to prevent lung cancer to a great extent. It is not that difficult as it appears. You can take the help of your doctors to recommend the anti-smoking aids. Quitting smoking will not only help you but it will also help your loved ones.