Lung Cancer Causes and Risk Factors
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Lung Cancer - Causes and Risk Factors

A number of different behaviours and environmental exposure are known to increase the risk of developing lung cancer such as:

  • Cigarette, Pipe or Cigar Smoking: Cigarette smoking is the most common risk factor for lung cancer and is estimated to be responsible for between 80% to 90% of deaths related to lung cancer. The risk of lung cancer developing in a smoker is 15-25 times more than for a non-smoker, and increases the longer the duration and/or quantity smoked.
  • Industrial Hazards: Exposure to certain harmful chemicals and minerals increases the risk of lung cancer (eg. asbestos, coal gas, chromates, nickel, arsenic, vinyl chloride, mustard gas, radon, by products of uranium, mining processing).
  • Passive Smoking: Non-smoking people who are exposed to second-hand smoke increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20-30%.

Despite the strong association of smoking with lung cancer, it has been recognised that more than one-quarter of lung cancer cases in Singapore occur in people who have never smoked, and who do not have prior smoke exposure. The causes of lung cancer in this population are being investigated and are likely due to environmental exposure and genetic mutations.

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