Think that staying away from cigarettes will keep lung cancer at bay? Wrong, says a new study. Although smokers are much worse off in terms of lung cancer, in the U.S. alone the disease kills 16,000 to 24,000 nonsmokers a year.

Researchers aren’t sure why, but they suspect that some non-smokers have a genetic predisposition to lung cancer or develop it from contact with asbestos or  radon—which is the second biggest cause of the disease—certain solvents and other people’s tobacco smoke.

A massive study conducted by the Researchers for the American Cancer Society, in Atlanta, and the University of California, San Diego consisted of 2.4 million nonsmokers living with lung cancer in Europe, North America and Asia. Their findings indicate that Asians living in Asia and African-Americans who have never smoked are more likely than people of European descent to have higher rates of the illness and to die from it.

Male nonsmokers are also more likely than female nonsmokers to die from the disease, with women having a 0.8 in 100 risk and males a 1.1 in 100 risk.  

Learn more about the affects of secondhand smoke here.