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Lung Cancer in Non-Smokers

During Lung Cancer Awareness month a lot of focus is placed on the link between smoking and lung cancer. While smoking is the cause of almost 90 percent of lung cancer cases, those who have never smoked in their life could still develop the disease due to several different factors. Continue reading below to learn about potential causes of lung cancer in non-smokers.

Potential Causes

  • Exposure to radon, occupational exposures to carcinogens and air pollution are the leading causes of lung cancer in non-smokers
  • Radon is the leading cause. The tasteless, odorless and colorless gas accounts for an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year
  • Occupational exposures to carcinogens such as asbestos and uranium are the second leading cause
  • Non-smokers regularly exposed to asbestos are five times more likely to develop the disease than other non-smokers
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke at work or home can increase a non-smoker’s risk by 20 to 30 percent

Lower Your Risk

Though non-smokers are already at lower risk, you can make lifestyle changes to lower your risk further. Test your home for radon, avoid exposure to secondhand smoke and limit your work-related exposure to carcinogens to help minimize your risk. Eating a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables can also help.

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of lung cancer can include:

  • A cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse
  • Hoarseness
  • Constant chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Frequent lung infections
  • Coughing blood

There are other potential signs of lung cancer that are not related to the lungs including weight loss, loss of appetite, headaches, bone pain or blood clots. If you are a non-smoker and think you have lung cancer or feel you are at risk, we recommend you schedule an appointment with your primary care provider. If you are diagnosed, our team is here to help.

Statistics courtesy of the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society

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