It’s important to know the risk factors of lung cancer  to find out if you may be at a higher risk than the average person.

older man on bench contemplating life

One of the main actions you can take to better your chances in a fight against cancer is to detect it early; so if these factors are present in your life, we recommended you head in for a screening just to be safe!


As the top risk factor for lung cancer, smoking cigarettes is connected to 80% to 90% of lung cancers.

This includes other products containing tobacco like pipes or cigars. The chemical content of tobacco includes more than 7000 chemicals, many of which are poisonous, with at least 70 of them shown to be cancer-causing in people or animals.

That’s why those who smoke have a 15 to 30 times higher chance of getting lung cancer or dying from it, than those who do not smoke. Even occasionally smoking puts you at a higher risk of getting lung cancer – and other forms of cancer like stomach, colon, liver and mouth.

Quitting smoking will lower these risks!

Secondhand Smoking

Secondhand smoking is just like smoking with all its associated risks – inhaling the smoke from others smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes can also cause lung cancer.

40% of adults and 50% of children in the US are exposed to secondhand smoke, with around 7,300 non-smokers dying from lung cancer because of exposure to secondhand smoke yearly.


As an odorless, invisible and tasteless gas, Radon is emitted from rocks and dirt and poses a threat to humans when it collects inside houses and buildings.

It’s the cause of 20,000 cases of lung cancer every year and is the second highest cause of lung cancer. In the US, about one out of 15 homes are believed to have high levels of radon.

The Environmental Protection Agency advises to get your home tested for radon and to use proven ways of lowering high levels of radon.

Family History

The risk is also increased if any of your immediate family members, like your parents, siblings or children have had lung cancer.

Other Chemicals

Some other substances that increase the chance of cancer are asbestos, diesel exhaust, arsenic and some other types of silica and chromium, which can be found at certain workplaces. These can be even more harmful than tobacco smoke.

Diet and Food Supplements

There are many different types of diet and food supplements that are being studied to see if they affect the risk of getting lung cancer.

A lot is still unknown, but we do know that smokers who also consume beta-carotene supplements face a higher risk of lung cancer.

There are also links to lung cancer that have been found with cured meats, like sausage and ham, and deep-fried foods and even chili.


The higher your age, the higher the risk for lung cancer. While rare, there are younger adults and children who develop cancer, but in general, it grows more common as age increases.

Air Pollution

Exposure to air pollution indoors and outdoors increases the risks of developing lung cancer. Indoor air pollution is caused by cooking and heating with noxious substances such as coal.


Results from a study of 7 potential cases of lung cancer and 3137 people suffering from lung cancer showed that those who drank a minimum of 30g/day of alcohol faced a slightly higher risk of lung cancer.

Are any of these factors present in your life? If there are a few of them, it is worth considering getting screened annually.

It’s important to stay informed and alert about your exposure to these risk factors. If you believe yourself to have been exposed to asbestos in the workplace, or at a high risk of lung cancer for any reason, don’t hesitate to contact us.