What Causes Lung Cancer?

Researchers have found a link between lung cancer and exposure to certain air pollutants, such as by-products of the combustion of diesel and other fossil fuels. However, this relationship has not been clearly defined, and more research is currently being conducted.
Asbestos is the name of a group of minerals that occur naturally as fibers and are used in certain industries. Asbestos fibers tend to break easily into particles that can float in the air and stick to clothes. When the particles are inhaled, they can lodge in the lungs, damaging cells and increasing the risk for lung cancer.
Studies have shown that workers who have been exposed to large amounts of asbestos have a 3 to 4 times higher risk of developing lung cancer than workers who have not been exposed to the minerals. This exposure has been observed in industries such as shipbuilding, asbestos mining and manufacturing, insulation work, and brake repair.
The risk of lung cancer is even higher among asbestos workers who also smoke. Asbestos workers should use the protective equipment provided by their employers and follow recommended work practices and safety procedures.
Radon is an invisible, odorless, and tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in soil and rocks; it can cause damage to the lungs that may lead to lung cancer. People who work in mines may be exposed to radon and, in some parts of the country, radon is also found in houses. Smoking increases the risk of lung cancer even more for those who are already at risk of radon exposure.
A kit available at most hardware stores allows homeowners to measure radon levels in their homes. The home radon test is relatively easy to use and inexpensive. Once a radon problem is corrected, the hazard is gone for good.
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