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Lung Cancer: Lung Cancer In Non Smoker Too

Raina Rahul Agarwal 19 Sep, 2022 Health & Fitness 4 Comments
Lung Cancer

What Is Lung Cancer?

Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. Lung cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the lungs. It occurs in the lungs when cells in the lungs divide uncontrollably. It causes tumours to grow and this tumour can reduce a person’s ability to breathe.

Lung cancer can spread to other parts of the body such as lymph nodes (located in many parts of the body-neck}, brain, armpit, chest, abdomen and groin ( where the upper thighs meet the lowest part of the body.). Cancer can spread from other organs to the lungs. When cancer cells spread from one organ to another organ is called metastasis.

What Are Lungs & How Do They Work?

Lung Cancer

Lungs are pair of spongy, pinkish-grey that are located on either side of the chest (thorax). When we breathe in (inhale) air enters our lungs and oxygen moves from that air into our bloodstream and is carried through our body. At the same time carbon dioxide, a waste gas moves from blood to the lungs and is breathed out(exhale). This process known as the gas exchange process is essential to life.

In the human body respiratory system is the most important system. There are many organs involved in the respiratory system like the chest wall, diaphragm, blood vessels, lungs and other tissue but the lungs are the centrepiece of the respiratory system. Our healthy lifestyle habits can help the lungs to prevent injury and disease.

How Smokers Affect Lungs:

Smoking increases the risk of lung cancer and many other diseases including heart disease, stroke and mouth cancer. Smoking can cause disease by damaging airways and the small air sacs called alveoli that are found in our lungs. Besides the lungs, smoking can cause cancer anywhere in our body:

  • Bladder
  • Cervix
  • Colon and Rectum
  • Blood ( Acute Myeloid Leukemia)
  • Kidney and Ureter
  • Liver
  • Larynx
  • Oesophagus
  • Oropharynx (It includes parts of the throat, tongue, soft palate and tonsils).
  • Pancraease
  • Trachea, Bronchus and lungs
  • Stomach

Smoking can raise the fatality rate of lung cancer and other diseases in cancer patients.

Why Non-Smoker Suffers from Lung Cancer:

We know that most lung cancer patients are smokers, but according to a new study by the Francis Crick Institute in London, air pollution is also responsible for causing lung cancer. It is also one of the leading causes of disease. Even though the risk is lower than that of smoking but we don’t have any control over what we breathe in.

“The team of researchers at FCI and UCL funded by Cancer Research UK have revealed a non-smell lung cancer mechanism driven by fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) particles that are 2.5 microns or less in diameter. These particles are typically found in vehicle exhaust and smoke from fossil fuels.”

Researchers concluded that as we age our DNA get damage and on the exposure of PM 2.5 particle rejuvenates these cells in the lungs encouraging them to grow and potentially form tumor. According to WHO PM-2.5 particle can enter into lungs and flow into blood. This lead to cause both the heart attack and brain at risk. They can also increase the risk of brain stroke and heart attack.

EGFR & KRAS Gene Mutations

After discriminating a correlation between air pollution and lung cancer the researchers then demostrated to establish causation through laboratories studies on mice. Through this experiment they found that exposure to air pollution causes a dramatic increase in the number, size and grade of cancer in mice with pre0existing mutation in EGFR and KRAS genes.

Researchers found that exposure of PM-2.5 in both mice and humans results in a inflammatory response  involving interleukin-1 beta (IL1B) (inflammatory protein). It transforms lung epithelial cells into a progenitor stem stem cells. If the stem callhas EGPR or KRAS mutations then there is an increased risk of tumour being initiated.

Researchers conducted lung biopsis in those people who were never exposed to carcinogen from smokers or heavy pollution. These people have healthy lungs but they found that 18-35 % of lung tissue sample contained cancer driving mutaion in the EGFR and KRAS genes.

Lung Cancer


Researchers concluded that cancer mutation increases with over time in the lungs of non- smokers. They estimated that about 1 in 1,600,000 cells in the lung harbors a cancer driving mutation.

Disclaimer: All the content of this article is for information purposes only.


Raina Rahul Agarwal

A Non-Medical Scientist, BSL-2 Lab, Mirzapur

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