Smoking and Lung Cancer: Risks and Facts

Smoking and Lung Cancer

Smoking and lung cancer are closely linked. Smoking, including prolonged exposure to second-hand smoke, increases the risks of lung cancer by up to 30%.

Lung cancer has not been linked to vaping and e-cigarettes. However, conditions like EVALI (e-cigarettes vaping-associated lung injury) have been reported.

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Nearly thousands and thousands of lives are taken by some bad habit that people pick up and stick to. Unhealthy lifestyles are just a loaded pack of behaviors that eventually lead to a condition that can take one’s life.

Just habits can be an influence picked up from the internet as every bad thing is now being advertised by stating false facts, or it can be taken from one’s friends or family members as the environment that you live in can affect your life the most.

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For this reason, people are made aware of the consequences of what can happen due to such behaviors by stating on cigarette packs that ‘smoking is injurious to health’.

Nevertheless, such things are usually addictive and tend to not leave a person until he or she is no longer capable of functioning properly without any medication.

One such habit is smoking which is probably the most practiced one in today’s world. It has taken so many lives around the globe and it leaves no part of the body unaffected.

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Despite knowing about the potential hazards that smoking brings with it, smokers usually find pride in this habit as it is considered quite likable, however, there is literally nothing fashionable about it.

How many deaths per year are attributed to smoking?

Cigarette smoking is one of the most commonly practiced habits worldwide, a total of 480,000 deaths are caused by smoking in the United States per year and nearly 41,000 deaths are caused by passive or secondhand smoking alone. [Ref]

Smoking pollutes the environment and many people know the possible consequences of smoking but they still participate in the behavior actively.

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Smoking’s Association with Lung Cancer

Cigarette smoking has been connected to several other disorders but one of such conditions is lung cancer which is repeatedly talked about and often advertised on the packaging that ‘cigarette smoking can cause cancer. There are a bunch of toxic chemicals which are inhaled in smoking.

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Basic Facts Regarding Smoking and Lung Cancer

Here are some facts regarding the association between smoking and lung cancer. [Ref]

  • Smokers are at an increased risk for lung cancer by 15 to 30 times more than those who do not smoke
  • Smoking only a few cigarettes per day can increase the risk of lung cancer
  • Other products like cigars or tobacco may enhance the risks for lung cancer as well
  • Tobacco smoking has nearly 7,000 toxic chemicals many of which are poisonous and almost 70 are known to be carcinogenic
  • Quitting this act decreases the risk for cancer by many folds

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  • Apart from lung cancer, smoking is capable of causing cancer at any other site in the body including the mouth, larynx, pharynx, voicebox, liver, pancreas, bronchus, and renal pelvis
  • In the United States alone, nearly 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths are associated with cigarette smoking
  • The number of cigarettes being smoked is directly related to the risk of lung cancer
  • Second-Hand smoking is also very capable of causing lung cancer as the person breathes the smoke of a smoker’s cigarette

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How is Lung Cancer Caused by Smoking:

There is a whole process by which cigarette smoking causes lung cancer in your body. The basic point to know is that cigarette smoking releases over 5,000 different chemicals. Tobacco smoking is known to have almost 70 chemicals that can cause cancer. [Ref]

So when a person inhales cigarette smoke, these chemicals can then easily enter the lungs and affect the rest of the body as well. These chemicals can induce mutations in the cells but your body is capable of healing from this situation.

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However, with the passage of time, the mutations are greater in comparison to your body’s healing capacity. The chemicals can hinder the immune response as well.

On another note, such chemicals can also affect the small air sacs present in your lungs called alveoli which are solely responsible for exchanging oxygen with carbon dioxide.

The destruction of alveoli can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

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Can Secondhand Smoking Increase Your Risk for Cancer?

Reportedly, second-hand smoking is responsible for over 7,000 deaths from lung cancer [Ref]. Many measures have been taken to avoid smoking indoors, still, long exposure to someone else’s cigarette smoke is very common.

According to research, secondhand smoking can increase a person’s risk for cancer, particularly lung and breast cancer.

For this reason, in clinical settings, there should be detailed questioning about any incidence of exposure to passive smoking. The findings suggest that passive smoking is quite detrimental to non-smokers too. [Ref]

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Can E-Cigarettes Cause Cancer too?

E-cigarettes like vapes are battery-operated devices that are portable and convenient to use. These cigarettes are pretty fashionable and they deliver a decent amount of nicotine when inhaled and nicotine is responsible for causing brain damage.

These e-cigarettes may also deliver heavy metals and chemicals (such as diacetyl) that are used for flavoring can cause conditions like ​​bronchiolitis obliterans. For such reasons, researchers discourage the use of e-cigarettes by teenagers.

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The cancer-causing impact of e-cigarettes is still under investigation, however, scientists believe that vaping does contain cancer-causing agents but in smaller amounts as compared to cigarette smoking. [Ref]

Formaldehyde is known to provoke cancer and it is delivered when the liquid inside the vape heats up.

Types of Lung Cancer in Smokers

Once diagnosed with lung cancer, it is essential to know the distinct type of it as well. Doctors characterize lung cancer into two main types depending on the cellular appearance of the lung under a microscope. The treatment plan is based on which type of lung cancer is present.

  • Small Cell Lung Cancer:

    • This one is less common in comparison to the second type and it is exclusively present in heavy smokers or chain smokers.
    • Almost 13% to 15% of all lung cancers are small cell lung cancers. This type of cancer is quite aggressive as compared to non-small cell lung cancer. [Ref]
  • Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer:

    • This comprises several types of cancer which include adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, etc.

What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

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