Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Lung Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Lung Cancer May Run in Families

Even Cousins of Lung Cancer Patients More Likely to Develop Disease

WebMD Health News

Dec. 21, 2004 -- Having a relative with lung cancer may more than triple your risk of developing the deadly disease, according a new study.

Although smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products is the biggest contributing risk to lung cancer risk, researchers say genetics may also play a role.

The study showed that first-degree relatives, such as brothers, sisters, or parents of lung cancer patients were two to 3.5 times more likely to develop lung cancer than the general population.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in men and women in many Western countries, including the U.S.

Lung Cancer Risk Among Relatives

In the study, which appears in the Dec. 22/29 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers examined the role of genetics in lung cancer risk in the population of Iceland.

The risk for first-, second-, and third-degree relatives of people with lung cancer was estimated by comparing 2,756 people diagnosed with lung cancer in Iceland from 1955-2002, with all living Icelanders.

Researchers also estimated the risk of lung cancer associated with smoking.

The study showed that the increased risk of lung cancer among relatives of lung cancer patients extended beyond the immediate family, although first-degree relatives had the highest risk.

For example, parents of lung cancer patients had 2.7 times increased risk. Siblings and children of lung cancer patients had twice the risk.

Second-degree relatives of people with lung cancer, such as aunts, uncles, and nephews/nieces, were about 30% more likely to develop the disease, and third-degree relatives, such as cousins, had a 14% higher risk.

Researchers found the risk associated with having a family member with lung cancer was higher if the cancer developed early, before age 60. For relatives of people with early onset cancer, the risk of developing cancer was up to 3.5 times higher.

Although the study indicates that genetics play a role in affecting lung cancer risk, researchers say tobacco smoke still plays the dominant role, even among those who are genetically predisposed to lung cancer.

Today on WebMD

Broken cigarette
Do you know the myths from the facts?
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
Lung Cancer Risks Myths and Facts
cancer fighting foods
Improving Lung Cancer Survival Targeted Therapy
Lung Cancer Surprising Differences Between Sexes
Pets Improve Your Health
Vitamin D
Lung Cancer Surgery Options