Lung Cancer FAQ: Risk of cancer from smoking


Q: "What is the real risk of getting lung cancer if you smoke cigarettes and is there a "safe" smoking level?"

A: There is no safe level of cigarette smoking! Even smoking a couple of cigarettes a day will increase your risk of getting lung cancer over that of a non-smoker.

Smoking is believed to cause 87 percent of lung cancers in the United States. The risk of getting lung cancer is directly related to the number of cigarettes you smoke per day. The more cigarettes that are smoked, the greater the risk of developing lung cancer. Also, lung cancer risk increases with each year you smoke.

Other risks to consider are:

The younger you are when you start smoking, the greater your risk of developing lung cancer.

The deeper you inhale the greater your risk.

On the positive side, the younger you are when you quit, the longer you will have to recover from the damage done by cigarettes. The risk of cancer never falls to that of a lifelong non-smoker, however. Half of lung cancers are diagnosed in people who have already stopped smoking. The best thing to do for yourself is to stop smoking; it is your safest choice.

Answers provided by Providence lung cancer experts.

Last updated: August 2002