There are many cases where multiple risk factors may combine to create an even greater level of risk for various conditions or situations, and lung cancer is a good example here. Many people are well aware that elevated levels of radon in a home or workplace post greater risks of several forms of cancer, including lung cancer — and it might not surprise you to learn that among those exposed to radon, those who smoke cigarettes are at far higher risk levels than those who don’t.
At Absolute Radon Safety, we’re proud to offer the very best in radon mitigation systems and radon testing throughout Denver and nearby areas, ensuring our clients live and work in locations with radon levels that are well below any risk levels that are harmful to humans. We’re happy to provide these services to anyone, but particularly those with other high levels of risk that may be exacerbated by unsafe radon levels — including lung cancer. This two-part blog series will go over the standard risks of lung cancer for those with high radon exposure, then compare those to the much higher risks among smokers, to show you why both radon mitigation and finding ways to limit or quit smoking are both valuable to your long-term health.
Basic Lung Cancer Risks
Lung cancer is one of the most common forms out there, taking thousands of lives every year in the US alone. And while it has a wide variety of risk factors, the single top areas are those we’re discussing here: Smoking, secondhand smoke, and radon exposure.
And if lung cancer does take place, it’s quite dangerous — it has one of the lowest survival rates of any forms of cancer, and it also has quite a few cases where the treatment itself has worse results than the disease. For instance, lung cancer is often treated with surgery to remove portions of the respiratory system; however, studies have shown that even in carefully chosen patients who get highly respected surgical teams and seem like they’re at low risk for issues, the risks of death are still higher than without treatment. And if someone does live after the surgery, they’re often left with major issues including open wounds, breathing problems that have to be dealt with via facial or hand pumps, or having portions of their jaw removed in order to deal with extra space needed for breathing tubes.
Radon and Lung Cancer
According to EPA estimates, radon is the single top cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, and the second-leading cause overall (behind only smoking). It’s responsible for over 20,000 deaths every year, with an even higher number of cases that result in lung cancer without actually resulting in death.
The risks come from radon’s radioactivity, which breaks down into different particles including alpha and beta particles; the former is considered more dangerous than the latter (though both are known to be potentially deadly), and it can enter deep into the lungs or throat, damaging cells that can cause cancer.
In part two of our series, we’ll discuss smoking’s risk factors for lung cancer, plus secondhand smoke and how these two areas can combine to create even greater risks among those who both smoke and are exposed to high radon levels.