Link Between Passive Smoker and Lung Cancer

September 14, 2013

A chest X-ray showing a tumor in the lung (marked by arrow)
A chest X-ray showing a tumor in the lung (marked by arrow).

Lung cancer, an abnormal and uncontrolled growth of the cells in tissues of the lung, is the most common cancer in the world. I had described this in my earlier post, that lung cancer contributed 12.7%, or 1,608,055 new cases, in 2008. The death rate was 18,2%, or 1,376,579 cases of cancer death worldwide.

Cigarette smoking causes mostlung cancers. The more cigarettes to smoke per day, and the earlier age of starting to smoke, the greater the risk of getting lung cancer. Other risks include, high levels of pollution, radiation, asbestos exposure, and first degree family history of any cancers especially lung cancer, may also increase the risk.

The most common symptoms of lung cancer, include:

  • A cough that does not heal, and even gets worse by coughing up blood.
  • Wheezing, or hoarseness, due to shortness of breath, a breathing difficulty, which involves a sensation of difficult, or uncomfortable breathing, or a feeling of not getting enough air.
  • Chest pain, discomfort or pain that you feel anywhere, along the front of your body, between your neck and upper abdomen, that does not heal.
  • Regular problems of having pneumonia, or bronchitis.
  • Swelling of the neck and face.
  • Suddenly of having weight loss, due to loss of appetite.
  • Always suffering from fatigue, although was not doing any hard works.

There are many types of lung cancer. Each type of lung cancer is treated differently, because the cancer cells grow, and spread in different ways. Treatments depend on the stage, in which include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. (MedlinePlus)

Link Between Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Lung Cancer

Passive smokers, or second hand smokers, are people who are exposed by environmental tobacco smoke from an active smoker. Environmental tobacco smoke is also known as pollutants from smoker's lung.

Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, is generally believed to increase the risk by 25%, of coronary heart disease (CHD), and lung cancer among never smokers. The increased risk is based primarily on meta analysis, and is still controversial due to methodological problems. A researcher, James E. Enstrom, with his associate professor, Geoffrey C. Kabat, was shocking the world, when British Medical Journal published his study, in 2003.

The study was based on cancer prevention study (CPS I) conducted by the American Cancer Society, among 118,094 adults, in 1959, and the follow up study until 1972. Enstrom then conducted the extended follow up, at the University of California, LA, until 1999, with focusing only on the 35,561 never smokers, who had a spouse, in the study, with known smoking habits.

The large study of Californians, which followed for 40 years, had found that environmental tobacco smoke was not associated with CHD, or lung cancer mortality, at any level of exposure. The study suggested that the effects of environmental tobacco smoke, particularly for CHD, are considerably smaller than generally believed.

Moreover, active cigarette smoking was confirmed as a strong risk factor for CHD, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), most commonly disease caused by tobacco smoke, such as, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. (Enstrom JE, et al. 2003)

Smoker who lived until 95 Years of Age

My great grandfather from my mother side, was born in 1902. He was known as a heavy smoker by his sons, daughters, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. He died in 1997 at the age of 95 years, due to aging, and not from any diseases. My living grandmother, who was born in 1931, is the second daughter of my great grandfather.

In December 26, 1950, my grandparent was married. My grandparent who had just celebrated 62nd anniversary last year, are non smokers. After 82 years of living, my grandmother was never having any symptoms of CHD, or lung cancer. Also with my living grandmother elder sister (two years of age older), who took care of my great grandfather since the death of my second great grandmother, in 1987 (my first great grandmother died in 1957), was never having any symptoms of CHD, or lung cancer.

From the first marriage, my great grandfather had six daughters and four sons. My great grandfather did not have any children from the second marriage. Seven out of ten children of my great grandfather, are still living until I write this post. The seventh daughter died at a baby age.

Two sons, the third and forth son, who were also a heavy smoker, died because of lung cancer. I never knew the forth son of my great grandfather, because he died when my mom was still carrying me in pregnancy, in 1980. The third son died in 1998, a year after the death my great grandfather.

Then, you might wonder about me. Do I also a smoker? Yes, I do. Until now, I am the only great grandchildren who is an active smoker, after my elder cousin quitted smoking four years ago. Yes, I know the risk of smoking tobacco, and I want to quit smoking.

I found very hard for me to quit on smoking. Again, you might say, there is a way when there is a will. Perhaps someday, I will stop smoking. I started to smoke since I was graduate from high school, due to a broken heart. What? A broken heart can make people started to smoke? Infact, a broken heart can make people conduct a suicide.

Although, there was a dangdut song lyrics that said, better to have a toothache than a broken heart. But, for me, I prefer to have a broken heart than having a toothache.

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