Can Non-Smokers Get Lung Cancer?

You bettcha!  Normally when we hear someone has lung cancer we automatically assume that they are smokers.  Just not true!  Anyone can get this disease whether they’ve put a cigarette to their lips or not.  Lots of reasons can cause this, but taking the right steps can cut down your risk.


There are things that can bring on lung cancer even when you don’t have the tobacco habit, so try to pay attention to them. The following are some of those things to avoid.

  • Secondhand smoke. Two different types of secondhand smoke are breathing the stuff that a smoker breathes out and the cloud that drifts from a cigarette, pipe or cigar.  You are still taking in harmful chemicals when you’re around someone smoking, so you don’t have to light up yourself.  There are about 70 different kinds of secondhand smoke that can lead to cancer.  No amount is harmless, so make your home and car tobacco-free.
  • This gas naturally forms from soil and rock that you can’t see, smell or taste.  The air outdoors has a natural low level of the stuff, but more problematic inside homes and buildings as it creeps through the ground through cracks in the floors and walls.  Hire a professional to check the levels in your home.
  • This group of minerals was used in building supplies and products until found it was harmful.  Breathing it causes fibers to get stuck deep in the lungs that can lead to cancer.  Your risk is higher the more you are in contact with asbestos.  Older homes are more likely to have asbestos in steam pipes or tiles, and when the material is damaged, it releases fibers.
  • Mutations when there are changes to the DNA of your lung cells can lead to cancer.  You might be born with problems in chromosome #6 or may have less of an ability to clear chemicals from your body.  You might even be unable to repair damaged DNA through your body, and then are at a higher risk.
  • Air Pollution. Dust, smoke and chemicals in the U.S. air cause about 1-2% of lung cancers.  Polluted air may cause changes in your DNA that might set the stage for a higher risk of the disease.
  • Watch what you put on your plate.  According to a new study on how the glycemic index may be linked with lung cancer risk, the index measures how quickly a carbohydrate raises your blood sugar.  Those who ate a diet with the highest glycemic index had a higher risk of getting the disease.  Some foods that are troublesome are white bread, sugary cereal, white rice, pretzels and popcorn.  Choose whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, lentils and most fruits.  They aren’t sure why a high-glycemic diet may be connected with lung cancer but it does raise your blood sugar, which increases levels of proteins called insulin-like growth factors.  Therefore, they may play a role in the development of lung cancer.

Dr Fredda Branyon