How does smoking cause lung cancer?

Written by chris sherwood
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
How does smoking cause lung cancer?
Smoking in the UK is estimated to be responsible for more than a quarter of cancer deaths. (Getty Thinkstock)

According to the National Cancer Institute, smoking currently causes 87 per cent of lung cancer deaths. Even those who do not smoke directly, but inhale second-hand smoke, are affected by lung cancer. In fact, approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths caused by second-hand smoke each year.

Other People Are Reading

Introduction

According to Cancer Research UK, 86% of lung cancer deaths in the UK are caused by tobacco smoking. Even those who do not smoke directly, but inhale second-hand smoke, are affected by lung cancer. In fact, approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths are caused by second-hand smoke each year.

Chemicals

Smoking not only involves the ingestion of tobacco, but also a host of other toxic poisons. Over the years at least 43 to 60 different carcinogens have been found in cigarettes, according to Cancer Research UK. A carcinogen is any ingredient that has the potential to cause cancer. These ingredients include polonium, cyanide, arsenic, methoprene, benzene and carbon monoxide.

Damage

When cigarette smoke is inhaled, the tissue cells of the lungs are exposed to the host of carcinogens contained in the smoke. Carcinogens have the unique potential to damage and change the DNA of cells in the body. The DNA is responsible for a host of functions including how fast the cells reproduce and grow.

Growth

Once a cell has been exposed to carcinogens for an extended period of time, and the DNA has been affected and the cell can become cancerous. A cancerous cell is defined as any cell in the body whose DNA has been reprogrammed to grow at an accelerated and unstoppable rate. As the affected cells continue to grow, they cause the formation of blood vessels to supply the cells with the needed nutrients to continue growing. These cells grow into masses called tumours. Eventually these tumours grow to such a size that they begin to crowd out other cells in the lungs. The added mass of the tumour makes it difficult to breathe, which decreases the amount of oxygen being sent throughout the body. Eventually the tumour can become so large that the lungs can no longer function. If a small amount of the tumour manages to break off and enter the bloodstream, or lymph system, the cancer can metastasise (spread) to other parts of the body. Here the process continues as the cells make new homes in organ tissues, growing in organs such as the heart, liver or brain. This eventually causes these organs to no longer function as well.

Don't Miss

Filter:
  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
Sort:
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the eHow.co.uk site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.