Lung Cancer Prevention: Things To Know And How To Aviod It

Lung Cancer Prevention: Things To Know And How To Aviod It

Lung cancer is one of the most common and deadly cancers worldwide. In the United States alone, over 200,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year. The good news is that there are steps you can take to lower your risk of developing this disease. In this article, we will discuss the top ways you can help prevent lung cancer.

Quit Smoking

Smoking is by far the leading cause of lung cancer, accounting for approximately 80-90% of lung cancer deaths. The toxins and carcinogens in tobacco damage lung tissue and cause genetic mutations that can lead to cancerous growths. Quitting smoking is the single most important thing you can do to reduce your risk, regardless of how long or how much you have smoked. Studies show that 10 years after quitting, your lung cancer risk drops by half compared to those who continue to smoke. It’s never too late to quit, but the earlier the better.

Avoid Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke refers to the smoke inhaled from other people’s cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. This passive smoking is another major risk factor for lung cancer. Avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke at home, work, bars, restaurants, and other public places is key to decreasing lung cancer risk, especially for non-smokers. Secondhand smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer. If you live with someone who smokes, encourage them to quit or only smoke outside. Support measures to make all public places smoke-free.

Eat a Nutritious Diet

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help reduce lung cancer risk. Diets high in fruits and veggies have been associated with lower rates of lung cancer in several large studies. Produce contains beneficial phytochemicals such as flavonoids, carotenoids, and vitamins with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help protect lung tissue. Shoot for 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies per day for the biggest benefit. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are especially protective.

Get Regular Physical Activity

Being physically active most days of the week has been linked with decreased lung cancer risk. Moderate exercise like brisk walking for 30-60 minutes per day can help reduce inflammation and improve immune function. Increased physical activity may also help with smoking cessation. Even light activities like housework or gardening count, so find whatever gets you moving more. Studies show that people who are regularly active have up to a 40% lower risk of lung cancer. Work your way up to at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise.

Limit Alcohol Intake

Heavy alcohol consumption has been classified as a risk factor for lung cancer. Chronic heavy drinking damages lung tissue, impairs immune defenses, and increases inflammation. Alcohol can also work synergistically with tobacco use to multiply lung cancer risk. Limiting alcohol intake to no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men is advised. One drink is 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz of spirits. If you don’t drink, don’t start. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation.

Avoid Exposure to Carcinogens

Long-term exposure to radon gas, asbestos fibers, certain metals like chromium and nickel, and other lung carcinogens found in some work environments can increase lung cancer risk, especially in smokers. Take precautions to limit exposure to these substances at work and at home when possible. improve ventilation, use protective equipment, and follow safety protocols. Avoid secondhand exposure to asbestos fibers on the clothing of people who work with asbestos as well. Being aware of your environment can reduce harmful exposures.

Get Your Home Checked for Radon

Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that results from the natural radioactive breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. It can seep into homes and buildings through cracks in the foundation and accumulate to dangerous levels. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking and the leading cause among non-smokers. All homes should be tested for radon levels. If levels above 4 picocuries per liter of air are detected, take steps to lower radon such as improving ventilation and sealing foundation cracks. Consult with a radon mitigation specialist if needed.

Eat a Diet High in Vitamin D

Some research indicates that higher vitamin D levels may be protective against lung cancer. Vitamin D has anti-inflammatory properties and may help control lung cell growth. Many people don’t get enough vitamin D, especially in winter. Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, fortified milk and juice, mushrooms, egg yolks, and vitamin D supplements can boost your levels. Aim for 600-800 IU of vitamin D per day from food and supplements combined. Check with your doctor to determine your ideal vitamin D range.

Avoid Hormone Replacement Therapy

Certain types of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), once thought to have health benefits for postmenopausal women, have been found to increase lung cancer risk. Use of estrogen and progesterone/progestin HRT, especially for more than 5-10 years, has been associated with elevated lung cancer risk in numerous studies. The risk is higher for smokers taking HRT. Talk to your doctor about alternatives to long-term HRT if you are concerned about lung cancer risk.

Avoid Exposure to Pollution

Exposure to high levels of environmental pollution may increase lung cancer risk. Air pollution, toxic waste sites, pesticides, and emissions from industries and vehicles contain carcinogenic substances. While you can’t totally eliminate pollution exposure, you can take some steps to reduce it. Limit exertion outdoors when air quality is poor. Use a good quality air purifier indoors. Live as far as possible from highways, factories, waste sites, etc. Follow environmental groups’ efforts to strengthen pollution regulations.

Get Immunized

Certain vaccines may help prevent lung infections that can increase lung cancer risk. Get vaccinated against the flu, pneumonia, hepatitis B, and human papillomavirus (HPV). Ask your doctor if you should receive any of these immunizations. The flu vaccine is recommended annually. The pneumonia vaccine is now recommended for everyone age 65 and older. Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for adults with diabetes, HIV, or liver conditions. The HPV vaccine is approved for adults up to age 45 and protects against the strains of the virus that cause cancer.

Know Your Family History

People with a parent, sibling, or child with lung cancer have an increased risk of the disease. This could be due to shared genetic risk factors or environmental exposures. Be especially vigilant about lung cancer screening and prevention methods if lung cancer runs in your close family. Genetic counseling can provide insight about your level of inherited risk. Speak to your doctor about earlier, more frequent, or enhanced screening based on your family history.

Get Screened If at High Risk

Lung cancer screening with annual low-dose CT scans is recommended for people 50-80 years old with a significant smoking history (at least 20 “pack years” meaning 1 pack per day for 20 years or similar). Screening should only be done at facilities with expertise in low-dose CT. Screening finds lung tumors at earlier, more treatable stages and lowers mortality. Discuss your need for lung cancer screening with your doctor if you meet the criteria. Screening has risks like radiation exposure and false positives, so benefits must be weighed against possible harms for each individual based on their risk profile and overall health.

Know the Symptoms

Being aware of the symptoms of lung cancer can lead to faster diagnosis and earlier stage detection. Symptoms to watch for include persistent cough, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, wheezing, hoarseness, repeated respiratory infections, chest pain, fatigue, appetite loss, and unexplained weight loss. Many of these symptoms can also result from other less serious conditions. See a doctor right away if any symptom lasts more than 2 weeks. Early lung cancer often has no symptoms, underscoring the importance of screening for those at high risk.


lung cancer takes a devastating toll worldwide. But by following the prevention strategies discussed in this article, you can dramatically lower your risk of ever developing this disease. Quit smoking, avoid secondhand smoke, exercise, eat a nutritious diet, limit alcohol, get recommended immunizations, know your family history, get screened if at high risk, and see your doctor promptly for any concerning symptoms. With increased awareness and healthy lifestyle choices, lung cancer can often be prevented. The future of lung cancer prevention looks hopeful as we expand our knowledge and find new ways to stop this deadly disease before it starts.


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