A leading cause of death due to cancers can be attributed to lung cancers which is more deadly than the other forms. Smoking is one of the main causes of lung cancers in smokers and in non-smokers due to exposure to second hand smoke – passive smoking. Exposure to carcinogens in the air due to pollutions or occupational hazards and exposure to Radon are other lung cancer causing factors.
Lung cancer incidence can be strongly correlated with smoking of cigarettes with about ninety percent of the cases arising as a result of use of tobacco products (Ankathil, 2010). There are over four thousand chemical compounds in tobacco, a lot of which have been found to possess cancer causing carcinogenic properties. Nitrosamines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are two such compounds which have been found to be the two major carcinogens found in tobacco. Smoking cessation causes a decrease in lung cancer occurrence as the damaged cells are replaced by newly growing normal cells but with prolonged smoking the risk increases every day. Passive smoking where tobacco is inhaled through breathing is a major cause for lung cancer incidence in non-smokers. The lifestyle of people with a lot of tobacco use in Nacirema could have been a major cause for lung cancer prevalence in the island.
Radon, a radioactive gas is released by the normal decay of Uranium, radium and thorium in rocks. Uranium occurs naturally in most rocks (igneous rocks or granites of volcanic origins) and natural waters which are prevalent in an island environment generously. The invisible, tasteless and odorless properties of the gas make it difficult to detect normally (Darby, Hill & Doll, 2011). Depending on the geology, the radon is exposed to humans when it dissolves in the ground water and when that water is used radon is released on to the air. For radon to have an effect they must be exposed in large amounts and hence poorly ventilated areas or well insulated houses are highly susceptible to exposure to the gas. The gas decays quickly and releases tiny radioactive particles which when inhaled damage the cells that outline the lungs and with long-term exposure causes cancer. Radon is the second largest cause for lung cancer.