What increases my risk of lung cancer?

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  • Smoking: Smoking causes around 9 in every 10 lung cancers. The risk increases with the amount of time you have smoked, the number of cigarettes you have smoked and if you started young. Low-tar cigarettes do not reduce your risk. Those who smoke pipes and cigars have a lower risk of lung cancer than cigarette smokers, but they are at a much greater risk than non-smokers

Smoking is the cause of most lung cancers.

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  • Passive smoking: Inhaling other people’s cigarette smoke increases the risk of lung disease and cancer. But the risk is still much less than if you smoke yourself. 
  • Chemicals: Certain chemicals such as asbestos, uranium, metal dust and fumes, nickel, paints, diesel exhaust, nitrogen oxides. These risks are higher if you smoke as well.
  • Air pollution: May be a cause in countries where it is particularly bad. 
  • Radon gas: Radon is a radioactive gas found naturally in the soil. But if your home traps it inside, it can build up and cause harm. 
  • Family history: If you have a parent, brother or sister who has had cancer which started in their lung, your risk is doubled.

Having a risk factor doesn’t mean you will definitely get cancer. Sometimes people with no risk factors get the disease. If you’re worried, talk to your GP or talk to one of our cancer nurses. Call the Cancer Nurseline on 1800 200 700 or visit a Daffodil Centre.

Reducing your risk of lung cancer

The most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of lung cancer is to stop smoking. You can read our resources on how to quit smoking, as well as the Irish Cancer Society's We Can Quit campaign.

For more information

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1800 200 700

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