6 Shocking Medical Myths about Lung Cancer

In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said there were 218,520 new lung cancer cases in the United States. In 2020, lung cancer was globally the second most common cancer after breast cancer. It recorded 2.21 million cases and was responsible for 1.8 million deaths. Although prevalent, lung cancer is still a poorly understood disease. This article examines 6 major myths about the disease that have sprung up over the years.

6 Main Myths about Lung Cancer

The shocking myths about lung cancer include the following:

Only smokers can develop lung cancer

According to the CDC, 10-20% of people with lung cancer in the United States have either
never smoked or have smoked less than 100 cigarettes. The CDC also said around 7,300 yearly deaths from lung cancer in nonsmokers come from secondhand smoke.

Only older adults can develop lung cancer.

Dr. Fred Hirsch, executive director of the Center of Excellence for Thoracic Oncology at the
Tisch Cancer Institute, said an increasing number of young individuals are developing lung
cancer. He also said it is more prevalent in women.

It is impossible to reduce the risk.

Dr. Hirsh said there are multiple ways to reduce the risk of lung cancer. He also said you need to limit exposure to secondhand smoke, which increases the risk of developing lung cancer by 20-30%.

Living in a polluted city is worse for lung cancer risk than smoking

There is good evidence supporting that pollution created by traffic boosts the risk of lung cancer. However, comparisons between pollution and smoking are more difficult to make. Dr. Hirsch said living in polluted cities is a risk factor, but there’s no guarantee it is worse than using actual tobacco products.

There is no point in stopping after smoking for years

According to Dr. Hirsh, stopping smoking reduces your risk of lung cancer. Additionally, it
reduces your chances of developing other conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Smoking cannabis does not increase lung cancer risk

Dr. Hirsch said cannabis is a risk factor. However, he also said that the connection between
cannabis and lung cancer is conflicting and limited. Hirsch said the reason is that people who smoke cannabis also smoke tobacco, making it hard to distinguish the effects.


Despite the wrong assumptions about lung cancer, it still poses a problem. You can reduce the number of cigarettes and avoid secondhand smoking to stay healthy.