Lung cancer – It’s not just smokers who are at risk

Most of us are aware of the harmful effects of smoking, which is one of the first to lead to a high risk of developing lung cancer.

  • Of the cancers, lung cancer accounts for the largest number of victims in Hungary and worldwide
  • 25% of lung cancer patients are non-smokers
  • It is carcinogenic to various infections, hormonal factors, and diabetes can affect the risk of developing cancer.

Smokers are twelve times more likely to develop the disease than non-smokers!1 Of the cancers, lung cancer affects the most victims in Hungary and worldwide, among men and women. In Hungary, about 8,000 people die each year from lung cancer, a number that has been steadily rising since 1950, which is about 25 percent of all cancer deaths.2

Primary-secondary-tertiary tobacco smoke?

When we smoke, we think primarily of the individual (s) who smoke on a daily basis and who is harming their health with their harmful habits. However, the environment of the smoker is also exposed to harmful, emitted smoke, this is called passive smoking. However, it is less known that tertiary tobacco smoke is also harmful, which is the phenomenon when ignited in a closed room, so the smoke stays on furniture, walls, furnishings for a long time. Nicotine reacts with other ingredients in the air in the room, and the mixture poisons those entering the room in the form of carcinogenic nitrosamines.3 Inhalation of tertiary tobacco smoke can be especially dangerous for young children, who will grasp different surfaces and then their faces more often, and may also increase the risk of developing asthma.4 If you smoke or smoke in your environment, be careful to avoid the harmful effects of tertiary tobacco smoke (on you) or others.

Other causes of lung cancer

However, it is not enough to be reassured that if we do not live with a harmful passion for smoking and are not exposed to second-hand smoke and tertiary tobacco smoke, then we may not be at increased risk of developing lung cancer. 25% of lung cancer patients never smoked.5

It is carcinogenic to various infections, hormonal factors, and diabetes can affect the progression of cancer.

The predominance of women among those with small cell lung cancer suggests that hormonal factors play a role in the development of this type of cancer. 5

If you are having a coronavirus, it is recommended that you do these breathing exercises if you have difficulty breathing with Covid. You can also follow the tournament compiled by the Semmelweis University Pulmonology Clinic on video and in description.

This lung-enhancing breathing exercise can help a lot with Covid infection

According to a large-scale survey in 2019, out of more than 410,000 diabetics, almost 8,500 developed cancer: 34% more often in men and 62% more often in women than in the average population. Prostate cancer, lung cancer, skin cancers, thyroid cancer, kidney and liver cancer, and stomach cancer were the most common in men. In women, diabetes more than doubled the risk of tracheal and laryngeal cancer, but lung cancer, liver cancer, esophageal cancer, thyroid cancer, pancreatic cancer, cervical cancer and stomach cancer also occurred.6

If there is cancer among the ancestors, genetic factors may also increase the risk of developing lung cancer in the family, including among those who have never smoked.5

Symptoms of lung cancer

Early detection has a huge role to play: in many cases, metastases can still be prevented. Unfortunately, the symptoms are not clear: in the initial stage, the patient may often experience cough, shortness of breath and chest pain. However, at a later stage, fatigue, difficulty swallowing, bloody sputum, loss of appetite and weight loss, anemia and pallor may also be present.7

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Performing regular screening is the most effective way to screen for cancer early, so don’t take it lightly, even if you strengthen your non-smoking camp!

What can we do to stay healthy?

It is clear that if you smoke, you should try to quit it as soon as possible, because ten years after quitting, the risk of developing lung cancer in ex-smokers is already reduced to practically no higher than the level of risk seen in non-smokers.8 We repeat the cancer screening every year! Try to live a healthy life in terms of both nutrition and exercise. It can even help prevent the development of diabetes as well as seasonal illnesses. We ask a specialist or even your GP for advice. Be careful to avoid second-hand smoke and tertiary smoking, especially in children, as they have almost as much harmful effects as if we smoked a cigarette!

If prevention is no longer possible, the most important thing is to keep in touch with the patient’s doctor and follow the prescribed therapy closely. The patient’s mental health is just as important as his or her physical health, visit patient groups and patient organizations where they can understand what they are going through, rely on their family and, last but not least, professionals.


1 No Safe Level of Smoking – National Cancer Institute
2Lung cancer – basic concepts and risk factors
3Tobacco smoke is tertiary (
4Passive Smoking: Definition, Types, and Effects (
5 Lung cancer in never smokers: disease characteristics and risk factors – PubMed (
6Diabetes significantly increases the risk of cancer (
7 Lung cancer Hungarian Anti-Cancer League (
8Smoking and lung cancer

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