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Delving Deep into the Lesser-Known Causes of Lung Cancer: A Top 5 Roundup

Lung cancer impacts millions of lives each year. As dedicated healthcare professionals in this battle, it’s critical to stay updated on the latest research and risk factors to deliver optimal patient care. We’re all familiar with the common risk factors – smoking and exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke – but understanding the less-recognized risk factors can better equip us to prevent, detect, and treat this life-threatening disease.

This blog post aims to shed light on the top 5 unexpected causes of lung cancer, giving them the attention they deserve.

Radon Gas Exposure

One surprising cause of lung cancer is exposure to radon gas. This naturally occurring radioactive gas seeps from the earth’s crust into buildings, where even low exposure can increase the risk of lung cancer. It’s colourless, odourless, and tasteless, making it almost impossible to detect without specialized equipment, meaning it often goes unnoticed until serious health issues arise.

Canadian residential buildings contain the 2nd to 16th highest radon levels in the world.

The prairie provinces, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, have the highest average level of radon gas per home, indicating its prevalence in these regions.

Potential symptoms of radon gas exposure include shortness of breath, a new or worsening cough, chest pain or tightness, hoarseness, or trouble swallowing.

Indoor Air Pollution

When it comes to lung cancer risks, we often focus on outdoor pollutants, yet indoor air quality deserves equal consideration. One of the concerning culprits is asbestos. Though the use of products containing asbestos is now prohibited in Canada, it can still be found in older homes and buildings. During home or building renovations, asbestos fibres may be released into the air, and can significantly impact health and raise the likelihood of lung cancer and other respiratory ailments.  Asbestos fibres can also be released during routine vehicle maintenance, including brake work or when replacing a transmission clutch.

Though it can take years for asbestos-related symptoms to appear, common signs include shortness of breath, a persistent cough, and wheezing.

Occupational Hazards: The Hidden Dangers of Certain Professions

Certain industries expose workers to substances significantly increasing their risk of developing lung cancer.

In regions with prevalent mining activities, such as Western Canada, miners face an elevated risk due to exposure to radon gas and hazardous dust containing substances like silica. Construction workers in rapidly developing areas, major cities, and industrial zones are also vulnerable to harmful agents like asbestos and silica, which can contribute to lung cancer. Employees in various manufacturing sectors may encounter carcinogenic agents, further increasing their risk. Those working in the oil and gas industry may be exposed to dangerous chemicals and fumes, such as benzene, while agricultural workers face risks from pesticides and organic dust. Long-haul truck drivers and transport workers may encounter diesel exhaust and airborne pollutants that contribute to lung cancer risk.

Recognizing these occupational hazards, we can advocate for safer work environments, thereby reducing the incidence of lung cancer among these workers.

Genetic Predisposition

While the link between smoking and lung cancer is well-established, there’s a lesser-known factor: genetics. A family history of lung cancer can indicate a higher genetic susceptibility to the disease. Raising awareness about the role of genetics in lung cancer can help individuals understand their risk level and take appropriate preventative measures.

The Rise of Vaping and E-cigarettes: A Modern-Day Threat

The advent of e-cigarettes has brought with it a new concern for lung health. As these devices have grown in popularity, so too have worries about their potential long-term effects on our lungs. While research is ongoing, initial studies suggest a possible link between vaping and an increased risk of lung cancer.

Standing at the threshold of promising lung cancer research advancements, we’ve seen what the fusion of scientific exploration and human resilience can achieve.

Stay current on the latest lung cancer treatments and advances – take our complimentary course.