Lung cancer: How much does smoking really raise the risk of getting cancer?


Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious types of cancer, with around 44,500 new cases of the disease diagnosed each year.

The disease doesn’t usually cause noticeable symptoms until it has spread through the lungs or into other parts of the body, meaning the outlook for the condition isn’t as good as many other types of cancer.

According to the NHS, about one in three people with lung cancer live for at least a year after diagnosis, while one in 20 people live at least 10 years.

“However, survival rates can vary widely, depending on how far the cancer has spread at the time of diagnosis. Early diagnosis can make a big difference,” said the NHS.

Everyone is aware that smoking is bad for health, and lung cancer is just one disease it has been linked to.

But does smoking significantly increase the risk of developing the disease?

According to the NHS, smoking cigarettes is the single biggest risk factor for lung cancer and is responsible for more than 85 per cent of all cases.

This is because tobacco smoke contains more than 60 different toxic substances which can lead to the development of cancer.

These substances are known to be carcinogenic, otherwise known as cancer-producing.

The NHS notes a person who smokes more than 25 cigarettes a day is 25 more times likely to get lung cancer than a non-smoker.

Smoking cigarettes is the biggest risk factor associated with lung cancer, but other types of tobacco products also increase the risk of the disease, as well as mouth cancer and oesophageal cancer.

These products include cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff and chewing tobacco. Smoking cannabis has also been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer, as cannabis is usually mixed with tobacco.

Even when not mixed with tobacco, cannabis still contains other substances which can also cause cancer, warns the NHS.

Even if you don’t smoke, frequent exposure to other people’s tobacco smoke – known as passive smoking – can also increase the risk of developing lung cancer.

According to the NHS, research has found non-smoking women who share their house with a smoking partner are 25 per cent more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smoking women who live with a non-smoking partner.

“Most cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking, although people who have never smoked can also develop the condition,” said the NHS.

Smoking is estimated to contribute to around 120,000 deaths a year in the UK, with half of all long-term smokers dying early from smoking-related diseases.

But health experts say the effects of smoking can be reversed the earlier you give up.

Quitting smoking before the age of 35 should give you the same life expectancy as a non-smoker, according to Dr Elizabeth Kershaw-Yates, GP and part of the medical team at The Online Clinic.

The NHS adds people who quit smoking by the age of 30 can add 10 years to their life, while stopping smoking before 60 will add three years.

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