There are both modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors associated with lung cancer. Modifiable risks are risks that can be changed, as they are in your control. Examples of modifiable risk factors are smoking and where you work. Non-modifiable risk factors are those that are outside of your control, such as a family history and which sex you are.
Family Members: risk for lung cancer can be inherited from parents and grandparents. People who have one or more close family members who develops lung cancer, including siblings and parents, need to be especially vigilant on reducing other risks. Anyone with a close family member who got lung cancer needs to refrain from smoking for his or her entire life. Experimenting with smoking or telling yourself, “It’s just one time” could be backfire because of the highly addictive nature of tobacco if you are at a high hereditary risk.
Smoking and second hand smoke: Smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. Unfortunately, smokers are not the only victims of tobacco use. Many people have developed lung cancer simply from breathing the same air as smokers. Passive smoking can lead to all the same health issues as smoking. People who are high risk are those that live or work with smokers. That is why it is so important for smokers with children to keep their smoke and their children separate. This usually means leaving the house to smoke. People who work at bars that allow smoking should also be assertive about screening themselves for cancer.
Radon: Another key risk for lung cancer is exposure to radon. Unfortunately, radon is invisible, silent, and without a scent. It lives alongside us in our homes and offices. It is, however, easy to detect. You can easily find and hire a specialist to test your house for unacceptable levels of radon. There are even do-it-yourself home testing kits. You can also test your work space. If unacceptable levels of radon are detected at your place of employment, you should advise your employer and take steps to protect yourself, because radon accounts for approximately thirty percent of lung cancer cases.
Beta Carotene: Recent studies strongly suggest that beta carotene supplements may also be implicated in some cancer cases. Beta carotene is a substance readily available in plant food, especially carrots where it accounts for the orange color. Beta carotene is the delivery system for Vitamin A, which everyone needs to survive, and the beta carotene in your food is generally harmless. Vitamin A supplements, which deliver enormous quantities of nutrient to the system, however, may do much more harm than good, especially when ingested in large doses. Several scientists have concluded that beta carotene supplements, packaged as Vitamin A, may cause lung cancer. This is a rather tragic irony as Vitamin A was, for some time, billed as a preventative for cancer.