Cigarette smoking has been identified as one of the most prevalent and preventable causes of lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths globally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), smoking-related diseases kill more than 7 million people each year, with lung cancer accounting for the bulk of these deaths.
Even though the connection between cigarette smoking and lung cancer has been proven for decades, many people continue to smoke, ignorant of the serious health hazards they are exposing themselves to. In this blog, we will learn how smoking and lung cancer are linked to each other in detail.
What is lung cancer?
Lung cancer is the most prominent and second most common type of cancer found in both men and women, accounting for almost 13% of all new cancer diagnoses. When the cells start to grow inside the lungs, it is called lung cancer. Cigarette smoking is the number one cause of this type of cancer.
The main symptoms of lung cancer include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain, weight loss, and fatigue. However, many people do not have any symptoms until the cancer is at an advanced stage. There are primarily two types of lung cancer:
1. Non-small cell lung cancer - This is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for almost 85% of the cases. There are three subtypes of this cancer: Adenocarcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma, and Large cell carcinoma. Adenocarcinoma is the most common subtype and appears in the outer areas of the lung. Squamous cell carcinoma mostly appears in the central part of the lung and is strongly connected to smoking. Large cell carcinoma is the least common subtype which can appear in any part of the lung.
2. Small cell lung cancer - This is the less common but more aggressive type of lung cancer and it is strongly linked to smoking. It tends to grow and spreads quickly and it appears mostly in the central part of the lung. This cancer is often divided into two stages: the limited stage where the cancer is confined to one lung and the nearby lymph nodes and the extensive stage in which cancer has spread to different parts of the body.
The link between smoking and lung cancer
Smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer, with millions of cases being registered every year. When cigarette or tobacco smoke is inhaled, harmful chemicals and toxins are introduced into your lungs, which include tar, benzene, and other carcinogens. Over time, repeated exposure to these substances can cause mutations in the cells lining the lungs, leading to the development of cancer.
The risk of lung cancer increases with the duration and intensity of smoking. Hence, avoiding the exposure and use of cigarettes/tobacco as well as other environmental pollutants can greatly reduce the risk of lung cancer.
Other factors leading to lung cancer:
Apart from smoking, there are various other factors that lead to lung cancer. This includes secondhand smoke, exposure to radon gas and other harmful substances such as asbestos, arsenic, and diesel exhaust, air pollution, lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pulmonary fibrosis, genetics, etc.
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1. Continuous Nicotine Delivery: The nicotine patch delivers a steady dose of nicotine over time, helping to reduce cravings for cigarettes.
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In conclusion, the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer is well-established and it is important to understand it for a healthier lifestyle. Many dangerous substances and carcinogens included in tobacco smoke can mutate the cells lining the lungs and result in the development of cancer.
Smoking intensity and duration both raise the risk of lung cancer, and passive smoking can significantly worsen the condition. Understand the risks of smoking, take precautions to lower your chance of lung cancer, and consult a doctor if you think you may be at risk.