Big Love actor Luke Askew

by umer | 9:33 AM in |

Big Love actor Luke Askew, "Big Love" actor Luke Askew died from lung cancer last month in his home in Oregon, according to news reports.

The actor, who also acted in "Cool Hand Luke" and "Easy Rider," turned 80 three days before his death, OregonLive.com reported.

While there is little information on the circumstances of Askew's lung cancer -- what kind of cancer he had, how long he had it or what complications ultimately caused his death -- age is known to be a risk factor for many cancers.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, lung cancer is the No. 1 cause of cancer-related death for men when they are age 40 or older. For women, lung cancer outpaces breast cancer to be the leading cancer-related cause of death once they hit age 60.

Older people are more likely to develop lung cancer than young people, with 80 percent of lung cancers occurring in those ages 60 and older, according to MacMillan Cancer Support.

That's supported by a chart on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website that reveals an increase in lung cancer prevalence as we age. The chart, chart on its sitecalculates lung cancer risk based on current age. For example, 2.29 percent of men -- around two or three for every 100 men -- who are currently age 60 will go on to develop lung cancer in the next 10 years. However, that increases to 7.6 percent of men -- around seven or eight for every 100 men -- when looking ahead to the next 30 years.

But while age is a factor, the single greatest risk factor for lung cancer is smoking. The Mayo Clinic reports that lung cancer risk goes up the more cigarettes you smoke a day, and the more years you are a smoker (though quitting can mitigate your lung cancer risk).

Other risk factors for lung cancer include having a family history of the disease, being exposed to chemicals like asbestos or other cancer-causing materials, being exposed to radon gas, and being exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the Mayo Clinic.