Lung Cancer is a Silent Killer for Non-Smokers
While lung cancer is commonly associated with people who smoke, the reality is not everyone who gets this disease lights up. Since screening for lung cancer isn’t as common for non-smokers, the disease can often progress, unchecked for quite some time. That means when diagnosis comes, it may be too late for those not considered at high risk due to a smoking habit.
There are risk factors non-smokers should be mindful of that make them more likely to contract the disease. Some of the risks non-smokers should know about include:
• Radon gas exposure – This is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It is blamed for some 20,000 deaths each and every year. Radon gas is a naturally occurring gas in outdoor settings, but it can build up inside homes, causing a dangerous situation. Since this gas cannot be smelled or seen, it’s important for people to have their homes tested for it.
• Secondhand smoke – It is estimated this is to blame for about 3,400 death a year. People can lower their risks by staying away from others who are smoking.
• Workplace hazards – Substances such as asbestos and diesel exhaust can cause lung cancer in non-smokers.
• Air pollution – Chemicals found in the air may also be to blame for some cases of non-smoking lung cancer.
Non-smokers who find their risk factors are high should take steps to lessen or eliminate them. Signs of the disease to be mindful of include a persistent cough, chest pain, hoarseness, weight loss, shortness of breath and coughing up blood, among others.
If non-smoking lung cancer risks are of particular concern, consult your physician. There may be a need to screen for the disease, but a doctor will be best positioned to make that decision.