Most lung cancers occur in cigarette smokers, but why do some smokers get it and others don't?
Scientists have been collecting data on that by following 8,000 people over a span of 15 years, and now the findings are in JAMA, The Journal of The American Medical Association, the bottom line is that a family history of lung cancer plays a much bigger role than previously thought, especially if you're black.
"For whites it's about a 17% risk of developing lung cancer, for African Americans it's about 25%, and those are pretty staggering risks of developing lung cancer," says Michele Cote, Ph.D. at Wayne State University.
The JAMA study looked at lung cancer risk among people with first-degree relatives who got early onset lung cancer, meaning before the age of 50. First degree relatives refers to siblings, parents and children, and researchers consider this strong genetic factor in risk a good thing to understand because it allows for the possibility that high risk groups for lung cancer could be screened and identified early.