All of us are aware of how lung cancer is caused by smoking. Studies already show that about 90% of lung cancer risk in men and 70-80% in women is because of smoking. Fortunately, we have become more responsible about our health. While there are still smokers, their numbers are dwindling. We are also aware of passive smoking and so, many offices have opened up smoking spaces so that the smoke from cigarettes do not harm the non-smokers.
But are they really safe?
A new study has found out that there has been about 6,000 deaths in the UK due to lung cancer and the striking thing about these deaths are that the victims may have never actually smoked or had engaged in an occasional smoke – smoking less than maybe 100 cigarettes in their entire lifetime. It has been seen that within non-smokers, lung cancer has now become eighth-biggest cancer-related disease, going ahead of cervical cancer, lymphoma and leukemia. Lung cancer is becoming a real menace.
The thing is, smoking does cause lung cancer. But over the years, the focus has stayed on this cause for so long, that the other causes have been overlooked. According to the lead author of the study which was published in Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Professor Paul Cosford claims that lung cancer has almost been considered as a smoking-related problem. He is also the director of health protection at PHE (Public Health England). Now, with this specific research, another association could be made: outdoor and indoor air pollution, among other risk factors.
The PHE did not waste time after these findings. Once this connection was established, they have issued certain guidelines that could help to improve the general quality of air. It asks parents to not idle around the gates of schools and to promote use of pool buses. Along with pollution, second-hand smoke and coal fire fumes have been considered as contributing factors. Plus, while men were considered to be the chief victims of lung cancer, women never-smokers were facing the same issue too.
Now, the hidden problem in all of this is the late diagnosis of the disease.
Even now, when lung cancer is discovered in a patient, their smoking history is first considered. Doctors do not stress on the other factors much, like the environment. But the problem does not lie with the doctors alone. Many non-smokers have the false belief that since they do not smoke, they will not contract lung cancer. This would result in a delay of diagnosis since they would not take the symptoms of lung cancer seriously and shrug it off as some common disease. The result: delays and lowering the chances of getting a proper cure, as per Mick Peake, the co-author of the study working in the University College London Hospitals.
The disadvantage of non-smokers is two fold: first, there is very little research done on this phenomenon, and the stereotype is, indeed, harming them rather than doing any good by them. The best step they could take is identify the early symptoms and rush to the doctor without engaging in self-diagnosis.
Let’s hope that more research is done regarding this study. Let’s bring the disadvantaged non-smokers to an advantage.
IMAGE CREDIT1: Kateryna Kon
IMAGE CREDIT2: Veerathada Khaipet