Radon is seen as a leading factor in lung cancer in non-smokers - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Radon is seen as a leading factor in lung cancer in non-smokers

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It's the number one killer for cancer, it's not breast cancer, colon cancer or even prostate cancer.

It's lung cancer.

The number of people who die ever year from lung cancer is more than those other cancers combined.

And while studies are still being done to provide a direct link, experts say radon is one of the leading factors in non-smokers getting lung cancer.

Three-time cancer survivor Matt Ellefson said "because you can't see it, you can't smell it, you can't taste it, people don't take it as serious."

Some non-smokers may get lung cancer from second hand smoke but Ellefson knows firsthand about the dangers of radon gas.

"Radon gas is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. although i don't know if there's real definitive proof, but that's what they think caused my cancer," Ellefson said.

And Ellefson is not alone.

"Since i was diagnosed with cancer, i've had the opportunity to meet a lot of other survivors like myself and a lot of them being non-smokers. i've watched them suffer, and unfortunately, i've watched some of them not make it," Ellefson said.

Ellefson's physician, doctor Heidi McKean maintains smoking is still the number one cause but people who never smoked a day in their life can still get lung cancer.

"In those patients who are non-smokers that get lung cancer, they're really concerned what happened, was it second-hand smoke or was it radon," Dr. McKeen said.

Some experts may disagree whether radon actually causes lung cancer but Dr. McKean advises getting your home tested to help reduce the risk.

"It's a concern for the public because we know that radon can accumulate in the soil, in the ground water and people's homes, so we look at reasons for what are the causes of lung cancer," Dr. McKean said.

And you can pick up a radon home test kit at a local hardware store.

The Environmental Protection Agency advises getting your home fixed or mitigated for radon if you have over a level of 4.

The EPA estimates radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

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