How does Smoking Cause Lung Cancer

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Dec 29, 2011

Contrary to the belief that cancer cannot be prevented, lung cancer caused by smoking is rated as the most preventable form of cancer. Four in five cases of cancer is lung cancer and it tops the charts amongst all types of cancers detected in people. Annually 3,000 deaths are due to passive smoking.

How does are Lung Cancer and Smoking Related?


The air passage of your lungs is lined by millions of tiny hair called cilia. Cilia protect the air tubes by eliminating tar, dust and foreign materials. It moves them upwards towards the respiratory passage until it can be spit out by the person. Every time the smoke reaches the cilia, they try to push the smoke particles, but eventually fail to move and get clogged in their position. Consequently, the trapped tobacco smoke and tar begin to settle deeper in the cilia. This constant irritation turns the cilia cells cancerous. According to the National Cancer Institute 875 of lung cancer deaths are caused due to smoking.

Causal Factors


  • The chemical constitution of a cigarette is toxic in nature. It is not only the ingestion of tobacco but a host of other poisonous chemical substances that cause lung cancer. According to report by the American Cancer Society, a single cigarette is a potent mix of 42 to 61 carcinogens, which have been positively co-related to lung cancer. The constituents of these carcinogens are cyanide, polonium, benzene, carbon monoxide, methoprene, nicotine and arsenic. Nicotine is detected as the prime factor that suppresses the defence mechanism of the immune system to combat cancerous cells. The tumour cells spread to other body parts through the process of metastasis. The cancerous cells spread through the lymphatic system and the blood stream thereby, multiplying the cancer which manifests in cancer forms like breast cancer, oral cancer, kidney cancer, ovarian cancer or even leukaemia.
  • The smoke of the cigarette is yet another causal factor for lung cancer. When smoke is inhaled, lung tissues are exposed to carcinogens which pose multiple unique damages. The smoke changes the DNA of the cells in the body which is responsible for function like how fast the cells of the body grow and reproduce. The mutation of the cells and the profusion of cells lead to malignant tumours that lead to lung cancer. An increase in the lung mass due to multiple tumours results in chest pain and heaviness during breathing and the lungs can no longer function. Death is foreseen in a majority of cases of lung cancer.


Quit Smoking


Smoking is the most prevented by quitting smoking. Consult your doctor to help you in the rehabilitation process. There are numerous government supported rehabilitation groups. Seek help, medical guidance and family support to successfully quit smoking. In the UK, smoking kills five times more people than the combined rate of accidents, suicides, murders and HIV.


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