Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. While lung cancer is difficult to detect and to treat, it is also one of the most preventable types of cancer.
The more cigarettes you smoke per day and the earlier you started smoking, the greater your risk for lung cancer. There is no evidence that smoking low-tar cigarettes lowers the risk.
However, lung cancer has occurred in people who have never smoked.
Secondhand smoke (breathing the smoke of others) increases your risk for lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking adults will die each year from lung cancer related to breathing secondhand smoke.
The following may also increase your risk for lung cancer:
Exposure to cancer-causing chemicals such as uranium, beryllium, vinyl chloride, nickel chromates, coal products, mustard gas, chloromethyl ethers, gasoline and diesel exhaust
Family history of lung cancer
High levels of air pollution
High levels of arsenic in drinking water
Radiation therapy to the lungs