A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. Several risk factors make a person more likely to develop lung cancer:
- Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, with nearly 90 percent of lung cancers thought to be a result of smoking.
- Secondhand smoke – breathing in the smoke of others
- Asbestos exposure
- Talcum powder – While no increased risk of lung cancer has been found from the use of cosmetic talcum powder, some studies of talc miners and millers suggest a higher risk of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases from their exposure to industrial grade talc. Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral which, in its natural form, may contain asbestos, although, by law, all home-use talcum products (baby, body, and facial powders) have been asbestos-free since 1973.
- Cancer-causing agents in the workplace, including:
- Radioactive ores such as uranium
- Vinyl chloride
- Nickel chromates
- Coal products
- Mustard gas
- Chloromethyl ethers
- Radon – a radioactive gas that cannot been seen, tasted, or smelled. It is produced by the natural breakdown of uranium.
- Personal or family history of lung cancer
- Vitamin A deficiency – People who do not get enough vitamin A are at increased risk of lung cancer. Taking too much vitamin A may also increase lung cancer risk.
- Air pollution – In some cities, air pollution may slightly increase the risk of lung cancer.