July 15, 2024

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More and more non-smokers have lung cancer

More and more non-smokers have lung cancer


More and more non-smokers have lung cancer.  It has always been widely believed that men have a higher risk of lung cancer. However, in recent years, more and more data show that the incidence of lung cancer in women is “rapidly” rising, and most of them never smoke.

The data shows that lung cancer ranks second in the incidence of malignant tumors among all women, second only to breast cancer, and the mortality rate ranks first. It is worth noting that compared with the United States, more than 80% of its female lung cancer patients are smokers, while about 80% of female lung cancer patients in China have never smoked. Globally, 15% of male lung cancer patients never smoke. However, about half of female lung cancer patients have never smoked. Women who have never smoked are twice as likely to develop lung cancer as men who have never smoked.

More and more non-smokers have lung cancer

More and more non-smoking lung cancer patients, especially women

In 2017, a study of 12103 lung cancer patients in three representative hospitals in the United States found that from 1990 to 1995, never smokers accounted for 8% of the total, and from 2011 to 2013 it was 14.9%. The researchers ruled out statistical abnormalities and concluded that “the incidence of lung cancer in never-smokers is increasing.”

In the same year, another study conducted among 2170 patients in the UK found that this number was even greater: the proportion of lung cancer patients who had never smoked increased from 13% in 2008 to 28% in 2014. In other words, there are more and more lung cancer patients who have never smoked regardless of men or women.

In 2018, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, 15% of people diagnosed with lung cancer were non-smokers. However, non-smokers accounted for 24% of female patients diagnosed with lung cancer. Female non-smokers have a higher risk of developing lung cancer.


Morbidity & Mortality

The pathological type of female lung cancer is mainly adenocarcinoma. More than a decade ago, the incidence of squamous cell carcinoma was significantly higher than that of adenocarcinoma. However, in recent years, the proportion of adenocarcinoma patients has increased significantly, exceeding 50%. This may be related to the increase in the number of female lung cancers.


Second-hand smoke exposure rate is as high as 70%

“Among male lung cancer patients, there are more people who smoke, but in fact, the incidence of lung cancer among male smokers has also decreased. What is the reason for the increase in the incidence of female lung cancer? It is not clear at present, but there is evidence, That is, second-hand smoke exposure may be the main risk factor.”

An amazing fact is that passive smoking sucks in more harmful substances than active smoking.

Compared with inhaled smoke, secondhand smoke exposed to the air contains higher levels of carcinogens. These substances can also damage the tracheal epithelial cells and induce cancer after being inhaled into the respiratory tract by non-smokers. Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemical substances, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Tobacco smoke can linger in the air for up to 5 hours, exposing contacts to risks of lung cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and reduced lung function.

For non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke, they will passively inhale the harmful substances in tobacco, which may endanger their health in the long term. At present, there is sufficient evidence that exposure to second-hand smoke can affect the development of infants and young children, adolescents, aggravate the condition of patients with respiratory diseases, and even increase the incidence of lung adenocarcinoma, and increase the risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. Women and children are the main groups exposed to secondhand smoke.

Cooking at home may be a cause

“Many people think that PM2.5 is the culprit of cancer. In fact, whether PM2.5 in the air is related to the occurrence of lung cancer is still under study, but the degree of air pollution and pollution may be related to the risk of lung cancer. There is a correlation. And a large amount of data shows that kitchen fumes may be another important cause of women suffering from lung cancer.”

In daily life, women often have symptoms such as loss of appetite, lack of energy, and fatigue after cooking. The reason is that when the oil temperature rises to a certain level, in addition to the formation of a variety of compounds, it will also produce aggregates, causing people to produce “drunken oil” symptoms, which is medically called oil fume syndrome.


In addition, if you stay in an environment with high oil fume concentration for a long time, it will be more irritating to the mucous membranes of the nose, eyes, and throat, which may cause rhinitis, pharyngitis, tracheitis and other diseases, and cause certain effects on the lungs, and even cause Lung cancer. In addition to the correct use of range hoods, we must pay attention to ventilation in the kitchen, and at the same time reduce stir-frying and frying.


Establish a “smoke-free” environment to protect women’s health

“It can indeed be found clinically that most female lung cancer patients are non-smokers, but this does not mean that female lung cancer has nothing to do with smoking, mainly because the exposure rate of secondhand smoke is too high. Therefore, it is very necessary to establish a smoke-free public environment. “Professor Zhang Zhenfa said.

According to the 2020 China Adult Tobacco Survey Report, tobacco control propaganda is not enough, and the proportion of people with an education level of elementary school and below who obtain tobacco control information is even lower. Therefore, targeted and planned publicity should be carried out to raise the population’s awareness of the harms of smoking and passive smoking, so as to guide people away from the harms of tobacco smoke.

At present, there are 315 million smokers in some countries, and the smoking rate of the overall population is about 27%. We still have a long way to go to create a smoke-free environment. For smokers, education, physical examinations, and sub-health status assessments should be used to make them aware of the health hazards of smoking and the importance of quitting smoking. Encourage smokers not to smoke indoors to avoid the harm of second-hand smoke exposure to non-smokers. At the same time, smoking cessation clinics and training of smoking cessation doctors can be established to help people who want to quit smoking can stay away from tobacco as soon as possible.



Remind female friends: Pay attention to screening!

Lung cancer is insidious in the early stage, without any clinical symptoms. When irritating cough and bloody sputum appear, with clinical symptoms such as chest tightness, shortness of breath or hoarseness, lung cancer may have progressed to the middle and late stages. If the early-stage peripheral lung cancer can be detected as early as possible, and radical resection can be carried out by surgical operation, the five-year survival rate of early-stage lung cancer patients can be close to 100%, and the 10-year survival rate will exceed 90%.

Remind female friends that regular physical examinations are very important. Low-dose spiral CT can see clearly than chest X-rays, has lower radiation than PET-CT, and is more cost-effective. It is recommended that high-risk groups be screened at least once a year, which is an effective method for early screening and diagnosis of lung cancer.

People at high risk of lung cancer:

  • Age ≥40 years old, with at least one of the following risk factors:
  • Smoking ≥20 pack years (1 pack per day for 20 years or 2 packs per day for 10 years), including those who have quit smoking for less than 15 years;
  • Passive smoker
  • Have a history of occupational exposure (contacts with asbestos, beryllium, uranium, radon, etc.);
  • Those with a history of malignant tumors or a family history of lung cancer;
  • Those with a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or diffuse pulmonary fibrosis.


(source:internet, reference only)

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