How Addiction Can Cause and Affect Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is a condition in which cancerous cells multiply and spread unchecked, starting in the lungs. Lung cancer is most commonly caused by smoking – responsible for as much as 90% of lung cancer deaths. It is also the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US. Specifically, the prevalence of lung cancer among adults is caused in major part by cigarette use and nicotine addiction.
Second-hand smoke, or smoke produced by smokers in the vicinity of an individual, is also a known high-risk factor for lung cancer. Individuals who reside with smokers have a 35% increased risk of lung cancer compared to those who do not. Pipe and cigar smoking are also very risky smoking behaviors that put individuals at high risk of lung cancer.
Lung cancer affects millions of Americans daily. In men, lung cancer, along with prostate, breast and colorectal cancer combine to account for 42% of cancer cases. Fortunately, lung cancer death rates have been on the decline, falling “48% from 1990 to 2016, and 23% from 2002 to 2016” among women. Despite this, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for American men and women and the second-most diagnosed cancer.
Lung Cancer and Nicotine Addiction
Most cases of lung cancer are directly related to nicotine addiction. Alone, cigarette smoking is involved in 80% to 90% of American lung cancer-related deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals “who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer” compared to those who don’t smoke.
The likelihood of getting lung cancer greatly increases after a few times smoking cigarettes due to the addictive nature of nicotine and the highly toxic poison released into the lungs when smoking cigarettes. Not only do smokers suffer high risks of lung cancer, they are also at a much higher risk of developing cancers of the:
- Esophagus and throat
- Bronchus and trachea
- Colon and rectum
Additionally, individuals can get lung cancer from secondhand smoke. Statistics inform that 2 of 5 adult non-smokers in the US and 50% of children regularly breathe in toxic smoke from cigarettes. Moreover, 7,300 children and adults die yearly from lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke.
According to the CDC, cigarettes contain at least 70 known cancer-causing chemicals.
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Lung Cancer and Alcohol Abuse
Another type of addiction that puts individuals at higher risk for lung cancer is an alcohol addiction. Research shows lung cancer rates are high among those with a concurrent alcohol use disorder (AUD). Often, an individual increases their rate of smoking as they consume alcohol; some reserve smoking for times when he or she is drinking under the guise of control and better health. Studies reveal that as much as 70% of individuals struggling with alcoholism also smoke at least one pack of cigarettes per day.
Factors like genetics play a major role in the habit of combining alcohol and smoking. Studies of twins and adopted children showed that smoking habits can be inherited from parents. Too, the risk factors for nicotine addiction increased those for alcoholism and vice versa.
Also, the belief alcohol is better when one is smoking can encourage one to combine both cigarettes and alcohol. Individuals who frequent bars for a drink can feel encouraged to pair alcohol with cigarettes due to this belief. Social conditions that encourage both can be a factor in the acceptance of smoking and cigarettes. Consequently, co-abuse of these substances can significantly increase the likelihood of lung cancer.
Lung Cancer And Marijuana Addiction
As marijuana’s legal status evolves, research continues to try to answer the question of how damaging smoking it is to the lungs, and whether or not smoking it might cause lung cancer. According to the American Lung Association, smoking marijuana can be just as harmful and risky to the lungs as smoke from tobacco or burning wood. When a person inhales and holds their breath in (a practice more common to smokers of marijuana than cigarette users), smoke has a longer period of contact with lung cells. The resulting tar can cause serious lung damage and even lead to cancer.
The smoke from marijuana has many of the same toxic carcinogens as cigarettes.
Smoking marijuana can also negatively affect the immune system. Smoke clogs cells that filter dust and germs and trigger the production of mucus. Moreover, smoking marijuana has been shown to impair the natural functioning of the immune system as a whole. These factors leave the lungs more vulnerable to infection and cancer.
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Lung Cancer and Smoking Crack Cocaine
Smoking crack cocaine (the freebase form of cocaine) can lead to cancer of the lungs as well as death. Unfortunately, “freebasing” crack is the most common form of ingestion today – surpassing even snorting cocaine. In a study of crack cocaine abuse and lung cancer, individuals who smoked crack cocaine significantly increased their risk of lung cancer as well as their risk of bronchial and throat cancer. The chemicals in crack release toxic fumes and foreign substances (such as talc, silica, and lactose) into lung cells that affect the availability of oxygen throughout the body.
Smoking crack may lead to the development of “crack lung”, a term coined by doctors for the collection of pulmonary diseases caused by the drug.
Prevent Lung Cancer Through Recovery
Preventing lung cancer caused by a chemical addiction is possible – and the sooner you start, the more likely you are of preventing future illness. The key to removing the control of addiction is getting treatment as soon as you’ve made the decision to get better. Inpatient and outpatient rehabs can help individuals recover from substance use disorders and provide medical treatment for any related conditions that occurred as a result.
Call a dedicated treatment specialist today to find the best way to help you reach sobriety.
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