According to, lung cancer is the second most common cancer, with the American Cancer Society stating that there were roughly 130,180 fatalities in 2022 alone. Moreover, an estimated 236,740 new cases of lung cancer occur in the same year. These staggering results are very concerning, given that the number seems to rise each year, showing no signs of decreasing. The annual Lung Cancer Awareness Month is held in November, aiming to raise awareness regarding lung cancer. Risk factors for lung cancer are an important topic to cover to inform people regarding the dangers of this disease. 

5 risk factors for lung cancer 

1. Family history 

This is one of the most common risk factors for lung cancer, and given that the disease runs in the family, the likelihood of having lung cancer in the long run is multiplied. In comparison to people who do not have any relatives with a history of lung cancer, those who have a family member who had the disease are more likely to develop it themselves. 

The chances of developing lung cancer are heightened even more if a person has parents, siblings, or children with a history of this disease. It is imperative to know that a family history with lung cancer has no safe level of being exposed to smoking

With that being said, no justification will rule out the increased chances of getting lung cancer with regards to individuals that still rationalize any form of smoking or exposure to smoking as being safe for them. 

2. Secondhand smoking 

If people think that not being firsthand smokers will save them from developing lung cancer over time, then they are mistaken. People who inhale smoke from a first-hand smoker are referred to as “secondhand smokers.” 

This necessarily does not make it less harmful to one’s health. According to the WHO, around 8 million people die from direct tobacco use, and 1.2 million of those people are secondhand smokers. 

3. Smoking 

The prime risk factor for lung cancer is none other than direct smoking. The CDC states that 80% to 90% of individuals who smoke cigarettes directly die of lung cancer. 

This also means that people who smoke tobacco, cigars, cigarettes, and other forms of smoking have a higher chance of developing lung cancer in the long run than those who do not. 

Moreover, smoking low-tar or light cigarettes is not safer than smoking regular cigarettes. In conclusion, smoking in general is not good for the lungs and is treated as a risk factor for lung cancer. 

4. Exposure to radon gas 

Radon is a kind of radioactive gas that is mostly concentrated indoors, so houses are prone to having high levels of radon. In outdoor settings, there is only a minimal level of radon gas. 

Randon comes from the breakdown of uranium that is present in rocks and soil. Further, these cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled. 

What makes this type of gas so dangerous is that it is the second leading cause of lung cancer, as stated by the US Environmental Protection Agency. 

5. Radiation therapy (to the chest) 

Previous radiation therapy to the chest is one of the risk factors for lung cancer. If they themselves smoke, their chances are even higher. 

Early detection of lung cancer is crucial. Early symptoms include pain in the ribcage or chest, a persistent dry caught with phlegm that may or may not be tinged with blood, shortness of breath or wheezing, general fatigue and loss of appetite. If you’ve been exposed to risk factors for lung cancer, be sure to get regular checkups to catch this devastating disease early.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.