Asbestosis can cause sleep apnea

Mostly because of tobacco smoke causes

Tobacco smoke is the main cause of lung cancer. Smokers are particularly at risk, but also people who are passively exposed to heavy smoke. In rare cases, high levels of radon or pollutants such as asbestos trigger cancer.


Tobacco smoke

Lung cancer is caused by tobacco smoke in around 85 percent of cases. Cigarettes are particularly harmful because their pollutants are inhaled deeply into the lungs. Those who smoke are about 20 times more likely to develop lung cancer than those who give up cigarettes. In addition, the risk increases with every “smoking year” and with the number of cigarettes per day. Cigar and pipe smoke are no less dangerous - but they are more likely to cause cancer of the mouth, throat or larynx. Lung cancer develops very slowly: it takes an average of 20 years for smokers to develop the disease. Those who are exposed to the tobacco smoke of others for years also have an increased risk of lung cancer.

Radon exposure

Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that is released into the atmosphere in small quantities from the top soil layers. Radon can accumulate in closed rooms and, if taken regularly, in higher concentrations, can pose a risk to lung tissue.

It can take years or decades for radon to cause lung cancer. Nevertheless, the gas is the second most common cause of lung cancer in Switzerland. Experts attribute 200 to 300 deaths per year to radon exposure.


Asbestos and other pollutants

A small proportion of lung cancers are caused by pollutants such as asbestos. These cases are mostly related to occupational exposure.
In addition to lung cancer, the natural fiber asbestos can also cause a malignant tumor of the lung membrane (pleural mesothelioma).

Other cancer triggers are:

  • Arsenic compounds
  • Chromium and nickel compounds
  • Fumed silica
  • Air pollution with fine dust and hydrocarbons


Other risk factors

After surviving tuberculosis, scars can remain in the lung tissue. These areas are particularly sensitive and pose an increased risk of cancer.

If a parent suffers from lung cancer before the age of 65, the children are also at a slightly higher risk. However, this inherited risk is less great than with other forms of cancer such as breast or colon cancer.