Why do non-smokers have lung cancer?

Why do non-smokers have lung cancer? Healthbiztips
Why do non-smokers have lung cancer? Healthbiztips
photo credit: Franck V. @franckinjapan @unsplash

Why do non-smokers have lung cancer? Healthbiztips

@healthbiztips by Arlene Gentallan | health blog

Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer so the emergence of this dreaded disease among non-smokers baffles and surprises many. Try turning the table around and ask why not all smokers develop lung cancer.

First and foremost, although smoking tobacco is the major risk factor for the development of lung cancer, it is not the sole culprit. Circumstances like gene mutation, exposure to second hand smoke, air pollution, radon gas, asbestos, and radiation can also be the reason for the development of lung cancer.

The presence of a family history of lung cancer puts a person at an increased risk of developing this disease. Likewise, environmental factors like inhalation of chemical irritants can have serious implications.

Another culprit shown by research that can greatly contribute to lung cancer formation is the presence of major stressful life events such as divorce. Moreover, particularly startling is the discovery that when these stressful events does show to significantly contribute to lung cancer, their effect manifest in just several months to a few years whilst those attributed to smoking takes decades to develop.

Particularly alarming about lung cancer is it isn't usually apparent during it's early stage as it doesn't manifest signs and symtoms. By the time that symptoms like persistenct cough, breathing difficulty and chest pain does manifest, lung cancer has already advanced to end stage Stage IV in which cancer cells have metastazised to nearby organs such as the liver and brain. Thus, the survival rate for this type of cancer is low.

The possibility that a non-smoker will be diagnosed with lung cancer is by no means a way to put smoking at a better light. Take note that about 80% of individuals who have lung cancer have a history of smoking tobacco.

Overall, the development of lung cancer can involve various factors, not just cigarette smoking.


Jafri, S. H., Ali, F., Mollaeian, A., Mojiz Hasan, S., Hussain, R., Akkanti, B., … El-Osta, H. (2019). Major Stressful Life Events and Risk of Developing Lung Cancer: A Case-Control Study. Clinical Medicine Insights. Oncology, 13, 1179554919835798. doi:10.1177/1179554919835798

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