People Are Developing Lung Cancer, and It’s Not Due to Smoking

Chest x-ray

Lung cancer remains one of the malignant diseases in the United States. The American Cancer Society (ACS) says that it is the second most prevalent type of cancer for both men and women.

It also accounts for 13% of all new cases annually. Despite new medicines and therapies, it still kills about 140,000 people each year. Smoking is still the leading risk factor of the disease, accounting for as many as 80% of the cases. But it doesn’t hold all the time. Take, for example, Utah.

What Causes Lung Cancer in Utah?

The Beehive State has one of the healthiest populations in the country. It’s all thanks to a combination of an outdoor lifestyle, a good healthcare system, and even religious beliefs. Lung cancer is not as popular here as in the other states. The average rate is 29.1, which is way lower than the national average, which is at 63.

Interestingly, however, lung cancer here doesn’t develop due to smoking. After all, fewer than 9% of its adults smoke regularly, according to Truth Initiative. Compare that to 17.1% national average.

So why are they developing lung cancer in Utah? The answer is air pollution. The Beehive State doesn’t have the best air quality mainly because of inversions, especially in the Wasatch Front. A phenomenon common during the winter, an inversion prevents particulates from rising higher into the atmosphere. Instead, it gets trapped near the surface, increasing the risks of inhalation.

Because these particles are small, they can pass through the air’s passageway with no issues and find themselves in your respiratory system, such as the lungs. The data from the Thoracic Society revealed that four for every 29 people in Utah would eventually develop lung cancer due to air pollution.

There’s Another One

Woman wearing mask

Particulates are not the only reasons for air pollution in Utah. Another is radon. Radon testing in Salt Lake City is especially significant as this naturally occurring gas doesn’t have any detectable characteristics. You can’t smell it, touch it, or even see it.

It can also develop as long as there are soil and rocks present around the area. The gas can also build up through the years, which makes them even more dangerous.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this gas is the second most common cause of lung cancer in the United States. It contributes to more than 150,000 new cases each year.

Besides lung cancer, household members or employees might experience other chronic symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, hoarseness, and even infections like pneumonia. This disease is fatal, killing about 50,000 Americans annually.

For a lot of people, developing cancers such as lung cancer is a matter of chance. In reality, some factors can increase your risk. For Utahns, air pollution, including radon, is one.

On the upside, these are controllable factors, and the government is doing its best to create policies to lower your exposure and pollution. Meanwhile, homeowners can consider radon testing with experts who can also suggest ways to remove gas.