woman smoking
1 / 10

Myth: It’s Too Late if You've Smoked for Years

Fact:  Quitting has almost-immediate benefits. Your circulation will improve and your lungs will work better. Your lung cancer risk will start to drop over time. Ten years after you kick the habit, your risk of dying from the disease drops by 50% compared to people who continue to smoke.

Swipe to advance
Cigarette Filters Stained with Tar
2 / 10

Myth: Low-Tar or 'Light' Cigarettes Are Safer Than Regular

Fact: They're just as risky. And beware of menthol: Some research suggests that menthol cigarettes may be more dangerous and harder to quit. Their cooling sensation prompts some people to inhale more deeply.

Swipe to advance
Close Up of Marijuana Cigarette
3 / 10

Myth: It’s OK to Smoke Pot

Fact: Marijuana smoking may raise your lung cancer risk. Many people who use pot also smoke cigarettes. Some research shows that people who do both could be even more likely to get lung cancer.  

Swipe to advance
Vitamin Pills and Capsules
4 / 10

Myth: Antioxidant Supplements Protect You

Fact: When researchers tested these products, they unexpectedly found a higher risk of lung cancer among smokers who took beta-carotene. Talk to your doctor first. It’s OK to get antioxidants from fruits and vegetables.

Swipe to advance
Close Up of Man Smoking Cigar
5 / 10

Myth: Pipes and Cigars Aren’t a Problem

Fact: Just like cigarettes, they’ll put you at risk for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and lungs. Cigar smoking, in particular, makes you much more likely to get heart disease and lung disease.

Swipe to advance
Radon Test Kit Components
6 / 10

Myth: Smoking Is the Only Risk

Fact: It’s the biggest one, but there are others. The No. 2 cause of lung cancer is an odorless radioactive gas called radon. Given off by rock and soil, it can seep up into homes and other buildings. You can test your house or office for it. Call your state or county health department for information.

Swipe to advance
Talcum Powder Foot Outlines
7 / 10

Myth: Talcum Powder Is a Cause

Fact: Research shows no clear link between lung cancer and accidentally breathing in talcum powder. People who work with other chemicals, including asbestos and vinyl chloride, are more likely to get the disease.

Swipe to advance
Hands Holding Broken Cigarette
8 / 10

Myth: If You Have Lung Cancer, Quitting Is Pointless

Fact: If you stop, your treatment may work better and your side effects could be milder. And if you need surgery, ex-smokers tend to heal better than smokers. If you need radiation for cancer of the larynx, you’re less likely to become hoarse if you don’t light up. And in some cases, quitting makes a second cancer less likely to start.

Swipe to advance
Happy Couple Jogging in Park
9 / 10

Myth: Exercise Doesn't Affect Your Risk

Fact: People who get regular physical activity may be less likely to get lung cancer, studies show. Working out also helps your lungs work better and helps prevent heart disease, strokes, and many other serious conditions.

Swipe to advance
Smoke Stacks Billowing Exhaust
10 / 10

Myth: Air Pollution Isn’t a Cause

Fact: Tobacco is by far the biggest threat, but air pollution is a risk factor, too. People who live in areas with a lot of it are more likely to get lung cancer than those who live where the air is cleaner. Many U.S. cities have cut down on air pollution in recent years, but there are still dangerous levels in other parts of the world.

Swipe to advance

Up Next

Next Slideshow Title

Sources | Medically Reviewed on 08/06/2020 Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 06, 2020


1)   Thinkstock
2)   Henryk T Kaiser/Age Fotostock
3)   Eduardo Ripoll/Age Fotostock
4)   John Block/Botanica
5)   Photodisc
6)   Mark Burnett/Photo Researchers Inc.
7)   Don Smith/Flickr
8)   Image Source
9)   Chase Jarvis/Digital Vision
10) Brad Wilson/Photographer's Choice


Aldington, S. European Respiratory Journal, February 2008.
American Cancer Society.
Boffetta, P. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, April 21, 1999.
Cranganu, A. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 2009.
Druesne-Pecollo, N. International Journal of Cancer, Oct. 28, 2009, Epub ahead of print.
Iribarren, C. New England Journal of Medicine, June 10, 1999.
National Cancer Institute.
Parsons, A. BMJ, Jan. 21, 2010.
Ramanakumar, A. International Journal of Cancer, January 2008.
Stanford Medicine Cancer Center.
Sui, X. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, May 2010.
Tardon, A. Cancer Causes Control, May 2005.
U.S. Surgeon General's Report, 1990.

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 06, 2020

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.