Lung cancer and its causes beyond smoking


In India, lung cancer constitutes more than 7 per cent of all new cancer cases and around 10 per cent of all cancer related deaths. This is applicable for both genders. Lung cancer is the commonest cancer and biggest cause of cancer related mortality in men. Whenever we read about lung cancer, the first thought that comes to our mind is smoking. Indeed, smoking is the biggest cause of lung cancer, however, other factors cannot be overlooked as they too affect both the genders equally. One of those is our genetic make-up.

Lung cancer tops the list of cancers in males – In India and globally.

While smoking is a known risk factor, pollution, passive smoking and hazardous work environment – like asbestos, mica, coal and bauxite mining. 15% of the lung cancer cases in India are often attributed to a combination of genetic factors, radon gas, asbestos, pesticides and air pollution including passive and static smoking.

Second hand smoke

It is one of the important factors in tobacco-related deaths in India. Second-hand smoke is the one that fills enclosed places like restaurants, offices when people smoke cigarettes, cigars, or bidis. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4000 chemicals in out of which at least 250 are harmful and more than 50 chemicals from it are known to cause cancer. This also affects children as many of them regularly breathe polluted air in public spaces which has smoke in it. Around 45% children have either of the parents having smoking habit.
Britain recently made a law that stops anyone from smoking in a car that has passengers below 18 years of age. More than 2 lakh people die because of second hand smoke in India.

Asbestos

Lung cancer is more common in the people who work in sectors like auto mechanics, construction workers, insulation installer, roofers, paper mill workers, etc. Risk of Lung cancer increases from exposure to asbestos every year by 4 percent.

Image credits- liquidarea.com
Image credits- liquidarea.com

Genetic Make up

Genes and genetic variations in our body contribute to the bodily functions and overall health. This also includes the possibility of having various diseases which are hereditary or developed in our body due to changes in the genetic codes. Researchers studied entire genomes of cancer patients as well as healthy individuals and found out a region on chromosome 15 which may have been influential in causing lung cancer. Mutations in CHEK 2 gene also largely affect the risk of lung cancer. Some people inherit a reduced ability or inability to break down certain types of cancer-causing chemicals in the body. E.g. those found in tobacco smoke. This increases their risk of lung cancer.

Datar Genetics Limited offers Hereditary Cancer Screening test which identifies such risk for lung and other forms of cancer. This test can help your doctor to decide further course of treatment.

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