Risk factors

Asthma

The exact causes of asthma are unknown, but if it seems to run in your family, you should consider yourself at risk and be especially careful to report any symptoms to your doctor.

Other risk factors include smoking, allergies, and exposure to pollutants (especially in the workplace).

The sooner you begin treating your asthma and managing the disease, the less damage the disease will cause to your lungs.

Emphysema/COPD

Smoking is the major cause of COPD; 80-90% of all COPD is caused by cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke.

Pollution and irritating fumes and dust, especially on the job, can also lead to COPD.

Rarely, COPD may present itself in individuals with an inherited lack of protective protein in the blood; this is called alpha-1 deficiency related emphysema.

Sleep apnea

Anybody, even children, can have sleep apnea. But there are certain factors that may put you at higher risk.

Risk factors for obstructive and complex sleep apnea:

Risk factors for central sleep apnea:

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer occurs when the cells of the lungs mutate. This is most often triggered by the breathing in of dangerous chemicals. Below are the most common risk factors for developing lung cancer:

Smoking

Smoking is by far the number one cause of lung cancer, causing about 90 percent of all lung cancer cases. If you are a smoker, the single best thing you can do for your lungs is to quit smoking today. Even if you are not a smoker, secondhand smoke is just as deadly; if you live with a smoker or spend time in smoky areas, you are at increased risk of lung cancer.

Radon

Other hazardous chemicals can also cause lung cancer. Radon, for example, is found in one of every 15 U.S. homes; radon exposure is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, and when combined with cigarette smoke, seriously increases your risk of cancer. You can purchase an inexpensive, easy-to-use kit at any hardware store to test your home for radon.

Other Hazardous Chemicals

If you are routinely exposed to hazardous chemicals on the job, such as asbestos, uranium, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, nickel, and some petroleum products, you are at increased risk of lung cancer. If you are exposed to dust and fumes at work and aren’t certain what chemicals they may contain, talk to your employer and your doctor about the chemicals you’re exposed to and what you can do to protect yourself.

Air Pollution

Air pollution in general can contribute to your risk of lung cancer. Work with others in your community to make clean air a priority. Carpool, walk, or ride a bike to work, for example.

Genes

Finally, genetic factors can also play a role in your chances of developing lung cancer. A family history of lung cancer may mean you are at higher risk of developing lung cancer yourself. It’s important to share your family medical history with your doctor, especially if others in your family have had lung cancer.