Not all people who get lung cancer smoke. As many as 20% of people who die from lung cancer in the United States every year have never smoked or used any other form of tobacco. But, lung cancer in people who have never smoked is one of the most fatal cancers in the United States.
While it’s true that staying away from tobacco is the most important thing any of us can do to help lower our risk of getting lung cancer, there are also other risk factors. Some of the risk factors for lung cancer can cause changes or mutations in the lung cells. These changes can lead to abnormal cell growth and sometimes cancer. Some people who get lung cancer have no known risk factors.
Researchers continue to make progress in understanding what can cause lung cancer in people who have never used tobacco:
People who don't smoke avoid the greatest risk factor for lung cancer. But they can make some other lifestyle changes to help reduce their risk even more.
In addition to testing your home for radon, avoiding secondhand smoke, and limiting exposures to carcinogens at work , following a healthy eating pattern with a variety of fruits and vegetables may also help reduce your risk of lung cancer. Some evidence suggests that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may help protect against lung cancer in both people who smoke and those who don't.
The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
American Cancer Society news stories are copyrighted material and are not intended to be used as press releases. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.