Kuala Lumpur, 29 April 2019 — According to the results of research recently published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 6,000 non-smoking Britons die of lung cancer each year. This was out of 36,000 deaths yearly due to the disease.
This was more than number of those lost to ovarian or cervical cancer, or leukaemia.
More non-smokers are increasingly being diagnosed with lung cancer, often at late stage and incurable. Causal factors include secondhand smoke, indoor air pollution, wood-burning stoves and car fumes.
When the disease was viewed separately, lung cancer in non-smokers was found to be the eighth most common cause of cancer-related death in the UK and the seventh most prevalent cancer worldwide.
Despite the overall trend of declining rates of smoking, the proportion of lung cancer among non-smokers is actually increasing.
Breathing air in an home environment where there was secondhand smoke, where at least one person smokes, was the single biggest risk factor for a non-smoker getting lung cancer.
Inhaling and being exposed to carcinogens such as asbestos, particularly in the workplace was blamed on 20.5% of lung cancers among non-smoking men and 4.3% among non-smoking women.
Outdoor air pollution caused around 8% of cases in non-smokers.
A consultant thoracic surgeon in the National Health Service and the chair of the UK Lung Cancer Coalition, Richard Steyn, told The Guardian: “Apart from avoiding passive smoke, areas of high air pollution and wearing protective breathing apparatus in specific occupations, there is not a great deal that someone who does not smoke can do to avoid the risk.”
“GPs and hospital doctors..need to be more aware of the fact that lung cancer does occur in people who have never smoked and that as a disease in itself is more common than many other cancers that have a much higher profile, such as cancers of the cervix, ovary and the leukaemias.
“Many patients who have never smoked who develop lung cancer have their diagnosis delayed because of this lack of recognition so many of them have very advanced disease by the time they get to specialist care.”