UF Health Lung Cancer Program: Risk Factors

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
    • Arsenic
    • 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.
Source: Adapted from content provided by StayWell Custom Communications (http://ssov3.staywellsolutionsonline.com/). Always consult a physician about specific medical problems.