Researchers have associated numerous risk factors with lung cancer, and most are related to smoking. However, the chances of developing lung cancer can also be increased by:
- Exposure to Radon
- Exposure to Asbestos
- Exposure to Pollution
- Exposure to certain diseases
- Family or Personal History of cancer
If you are exposed to any of the above, and you also smoke, then you are far more likely to develop lung cancer and other serious health issues.
In this article, we explore radon and asbestos.
Radon is an invisible, odourless, and tasteless radioactive type gas which is released by uranium and naturally occurs in the soil and rocks of our planet. If inhaled, radon can cause damage to our lungs which can then lead to lung cancer.
Individuals who work in mines, especially those mines where dust is generated, can often unwittingly be exposed to radon gas. Radon is also present in the building materials used in some houses. Some people are so concerned about the effects from Radon gas in their homes; many hardware stores will sell an easy to use and inexpensive Radon Detection kit to allow people to measure the radon levels in their homes. This then allows them to identify any Radon related issues and take the corrective action needed to remove the Radon. Once the radon is removed, the hazard is gone for good.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, causing an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year.
Asbestos is the name of a group of minerals that occur naturally as fibres. Asbestos was commonly used in fibro (i.e. cement sheet) walls and roofing because of its good insulation properties.
In addition, asbestos was also used in shipbuilding, asbestos mining and manufacturing, insulation work, brake repair, and for various other applications. However, because of health concerns, the use of asbestos and asbestos products was banned in most developed countries in or before the early 1990s.
Asbestos fibres usually tend to break without difficulty into particles that then float in the air and stick to clothing. If these particles are then inhaled, they can settle in the lungs, injuring cells and promoting an increased risk of lung cancer. Studies have shown that people who have been exposed to large amounts of asbestos are 3-4 times more likely to develop lung cancer.
If your home contains asbestos, you should seriously think about getting it removed by a qualified asbestos removal contractor as soon as possible, especially if the material containing the asbestos is broken, cracked, exposed, flaky, or crumbling. If the material containing the asbestos is well painted and in good condition so that the fibres asbestos cannot escape, then there should be less danger from the asbestos, but you should still seek advice from a professional asbestos inspector.
To find out if your house or building contains asbestos, you can enlist the services of a licensed professional asbestos inspector. They will carry out a thorough inspection and provide recommendations and, if your building contains no asbestos, issue an Asbestos Clearance Certificate.
Asbestos workers can work safely providing they always use the protective equipment provided by their employers and follow recommended work practices and safety procedures.
Researchers around the world continue to study the causes of lung and other cancers and to search for ways to prevent or cure them. The best way to prevent lung cancer and a range of other serious health complications is to quit smoking, or better yet, never start smoking in the first place.
The sooner a person quits smoking the better their prospects for a healthy future. Even if someone has been smoking for many years, it’s never too late to benefit from quitting.