radon smoking lung cancer risk

Radon, Smoking and Lung Cancer: How Smoking Changes Risk Levels

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some basics on how radon exposure impacts your risk of lung cancer. Radon exposure is one of several major risk factors for lung cancer, and it becomes even riskier if the person exposed to high quantities of radon is also a smoker.

At Absolute Radon Safety, we’re proud to offer a variety of radon testing and radon mitigation services to clients in Boulder, Denver and surrounding areas, ensuring that you’re not exposed to radon-related risks in any way. While part one of our series went over the general risks of lung cancer and how radon exposure impacts these, today’s part two will dig into how smoking further complicates this puzzle, especially for those who already have high radon exposure levels.

General Risks of Smoking and Lung Cancer

As many are already well aware, smoking is the single leading cause of lung cancer and other serious respiratory illnesses. The carcinogens in cigarette smoke damage the cilia and mucus lining of the bronchi and lungs, leading to a condition known as obstructive airway disease. As this condition worsens, the risk of developing lung cancer increases exponentially.

Smoking causes over 150,000 cancer-related deaths in the US each year, per the American Cancer Society.

Secondhand Smoke and Lung Cancer

In addition to those who smoke themselves, those who are exposed to secondhand smoke also face increased risks. Secondhand smoke is the combination of both sidestream and mainstream smoke, which typically contains many poisonous carcinogens that can lead to an increased risk for lung cancer.

Secondhand smoke exposure causes nearly 34,000 deaths each year in the US per the American Cancer Society. It can also impact children, causing serious respiratory problems including bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma and increased risk of ear infections.

Risks of Lung Cancer Among Smokers With High Radon Exposure

And as you may have guessed if you’ve read to this point, combining the two major risk factors we’ve gone over here can result in serious risks of developing lung cancer. In fact, research has shown that among those exposed to over 20 pCi/L of radon who smoke, over 25% will develop lung cancer — that’s an incredibly high risk!

What’s even more alarming about this research is that if the individual exposed to radon and cigarettes is not a smoker, their risk of developing lung cancer drops considerably. Unfortunately, for those already smoking, it seems that tobacco use “overwhelms” radon-related health risks and greatly increases them.

As we mentioned in part one of our series, unfortunately, the only way to truly know if you’ve been exposed to substantial quantities of radon is by taking advantage of one or more radon testing services. These tests can be used both for homes and businesses, with results provided immediately.

For more on the risks of radon and lung cancer, especially if you’re a smoker, or for information on any of our radon testing and mitigation services to help you avoid these risks, speak to the pros at Absolute Radon Safety today.

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