Lung Center

Risk Factors

Knowing your risk factors is the first step in preventing or lowering your risk of lung disease. Anybody can get lung disease, but some lifestyle choices and environmental factors can greatly increase your chances.

The main risk factors for lung disease are:

  • Age: The older you are the more likely you are to get lung disease.
  • Genetics: A family history of lung disease makes you more likely to get it.
  • Smoking and secondhand smoke: The more cigarettes you smoke each day and the longer the habit continues, the greater the risk of lung disease like cancer and COPD.
  • Environmental causes: Exposure to radon gas, asbestos, arsenic, and other harmful substances can increase your risk of developing lung diseases. Allergens can also trigger problems with the respiratory system.
  • Other chronic diseases: People with heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes and other diseases are at an increased risk of developing lung disease.

To lower your chances of getting lung disease, manage your risk factors by:

  • Not smoking: You should never smoke, but quitting at any age can reduce your risk of lung disease. Fortunately, after 15 years of living smoke-free, an ex-smoker’s risk of death almost matches someone who never smoked at all.
  • Exercising regularly: Regular physical activity strengths the heart and lungs and makes breathing and circulation more efficient.
  • Eating a balanced diet: An unhealthy diet has been linked to lung disease.