The Ministries of our Church
Berean Health & Temperance
Non-Smokers And Lung Cancer
As for nonsmokers who get lung cancer — about two-thirds of them are women. Many nonsmokers are treated for months for conditions like pneumonia, bronchitis or asthma before the real problem is uncovered. In fact, one type of lung cancer unrelated to smoking, bronchoalveolar carcinoma, can even look like pneumonia on a chest X-ray.
About 21,000 cases of lung cancer each year result from chronic exposure to radon, a radioactive gas in dirt and rocks that can seep into the air inside homes, offices and schools. Radon is second only to smoking as a known cause of lung cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that all homeowners get a radon-detection kit — and, if levels are elevated (as they are in 1 out of 15 homes in this country), install a radon-reduction system.
Asbestos exposure is another potential risk, one that sometimes accounts for lung cancer in men who never smoked but who worked in Navy or civilian shipyards. Nonsmoking asbestos workers face a fivefold risk of developing lung cancer compared with other nonsmokers; the risk is greatly magnified in asbestos workers who smoke.
Air pollution from vehicles, industry and power plants is a relatively minor threat, resulting in perhaps 2,000 lung cancer deaths a year in nonsmokers, primarily those who are heavily exposed to polluted air.
The naturally occurring hormone estrogen is believed to account, at least in part, for the disproportionate number of women who develop lung cancer unrelated to smoking, and for the fact that female nonsmokers tend to get the disease at a younger age than men. As with many breast cancers, estrogen receptors can be found in some lung cancers, and Schiller says estrogen may promote their growth.
Then there is the possibility of an inherent genetic susceptibility.