Tobacco smoking and secondhand smoke from tobacco is the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Every year, smoking and secondhand smoke causes an estimated 130,500 deaths. Something many people do not know is that even if they smoke or have been exposed to secondhand smoke, tobacco smoking might not have caused their lung disease. A physician quite possibly could have attributed lung cancer to the wrong cause. Here’s why:
There are millions of industrial employees and laborers in the United States who are regularly exposed to toxins in substances such as asbestos. Miners, shipbuilders, pipe fitters, tile workers, welders, refinery workers, sanders, and even office workers can easily be exposed to asbestos, silica dust, fiberglass, radon, benzene, radon gas, and environmental pollutants as part of their jobs. The effects of these substances can surface years later-as many as 40-as lung cancer or another dangerous lung disease, such as silicosis. This is because the offending toxins, such as asbestos fibers, can remain inactive and go undetected in the lungs for decades, leaving no cause for concern. Sadly, many victims have no idea anything is wrong until it is too late.
Here is a list of the most dangerous non – smoking and secondhand smoke related cancer-causing agents to which many workers have been exposed:
Asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring, but harmful, mineral popularly used last century as insulation and in thousands of products. Today we know that asbestos fibers, when inhaled, are extremely dangerous. They become embedded in the lungs, damaging cells, restricting the lungs’ ability to function properly, and increasing one’s chances of developing lung cancer, such as mesothelioma, or another dangerous lung disease, such as asbestosis. According to some experts, workers who have been exposed to asbestos are three to four times more likely to develop lung cancer than workers who have not been exposed. This risk is even greater for those exposed workers who have been smoking for a substantial period or who have been exposed to secondhand smoke.
Radon. A tasteless, odorless, and clear gas, radon is found naturally in soil, rocks, and the ground. Miners and other workers are at high risk for overexposure to this extremely toxic substance, which is known to cause lung cancer. In some instances, this substance is even found in people’s homes: in fact, about one in every 15 homes has higher-than-recommended levels of radon. It’s a good idea to obtain a test from your local hardware store and verify that the levels are at a very low, safe level.
Pollution. A number of studies have linked pollution, including exhaust fumes and fossil fuels, to lung cancer, although specific details have not been clearly defined. More research is being conducted to uncover more conclusive evidence.
Lung Disease. Some researchers believe that victims of particular lung diseases-such as silicosis, mesothelioma, and tuberculosis-may be more susceptible to lung cancer because tumors typically develop in the scar tissue these illnesses leave behind.
Other Causes. Other causes of lung disease and lung cancer include exposure to silica dust, fiberglass, benzene, paints and solvents, and secondhand smoke.