Lung Cancer Prevention
How to Prevent Lung Cancer
To reduce your risk for contracting lung cancer, stop smoking and limit your exposure to secondhand smoke and other environmental pollutants. Also practice healthy lifestyle habits. With a few manageable changes to your lifestyle habits, you should be able to greatly reduce your risk of lung cancer. Unfortunately, as with any type of cancer, there's no way to guarantee that these health-focused steps will prevent lung cancer.
Reducing Smoke Inhalation and Treating Lung Disorders
Stop smoking tobacco products as soon as possible.Cigarette and tobacco smoke contains harmful substances known as carcinogens that can damage the cells lining your lungs. Over time, smoking can lead to the development and multiplication of abnormal cells. Any type of smoking that involves the inhalation of tobacco will greatly increase your risk for lung cancer.
- Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer worldwide. Most lung cancer deaths are linked to smoking, according to the Center for Disease Control.
- If you don’t already smoke, it’s crucial that you don’t pick up the habit.
Ask your physician for suggestions if you’re struggling to quit smoking.Your physician may prescribe medications that can help you quit smoking or suggest that you join a smoking cessation support group. They may also recommend nicotine patches or gums that can help you kick your habit. Patches and gum help you resist the craving for cigarettes by providing your body with a small amount of nicotine.
- In addition to talking with your doctor, you could also contact your healthcare provider for help with smoking cessation programs if you experience difficulty with quitting smoking.
- There are also smoking support groups available online. For example, check out the group called BecomeAnEx.
Limit your exposure to secondhand smoke.Non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke inhale the same carcinogens and cancer-causing substances as actual smokers. Avoid spending time around people who smoke. If you must be around smokers, ask them to smoke as far from you as possible, and situate yourself in a ventilated area. Also avoid spending time at venues such as:
- Smoky bars.
- Restaurants that allow smoking.
- Smoking-friendly hotel rooms.
Tell your doctor if any of your family members have had lung cancer.If anyone in your biological family—e.g., an uncle, a parent, or a sibling—has had lung cancer, inform your doctor. While having a family member with lung cancer doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have lung cancer as well, it does increase your risk of contracting lung cancer.
- If a family member has had lung cancer, it’s especially important that you stop smoking—or never smoke to begin with.
Seek treatment for lung diseases independent of lung cancer.Lung diseases such as tuberculosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can increase your risk for lung cancer. If you suffer from these types of lung diseases, work with your healthcare provider to have these diseases treated as soon as possible in an effort to prevent the development of lung cancer.
- If you’re concerned that you may have an un-diagnosed lung problem, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
- General symptoms of lung disorders and diseases include chest pain, development of a new cough, coughing up blood, or constant dull chest pain.
Limiting Your Exposure to Carcinogens
Test your home for carcinogenic radon particles.Radon is a radioactive gas released during the natural decay process of elements such as uranium, thorium, and radium. All of these elements are commonly found in rocks and soil. When inhaled, the radioactive particles in radon can damage the cells lining your lungs and increase the risk for lung cancer. Contact a local radon-detection specialist who can inspect your home for signs of radon.
- To find a detection specialist in the U.S., refer to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Radon page at: . If you live outside of the U.S., contact your government’s agency in charge environmental and chemical issues.
- If you’d rather test your own home for radon, you can purchase a radon-testing kit for your home at a local hardware store.
Reduce your exposure to outdoor air pollution as much as possible.Long-term exposure to air pollution from motor vehicles, factories, and other sources can increase your risk for lung cancer. If possible, avoid walking or running next to busy roads, and spend less time outdoors in environments with heavy air pollution.Also pay attention to any air-pollution warnings issued by the National Weather Service, and avoid spending unnecessary time outdoors on days with high pollution.
- You can find National Weather Service pollution warnings by visiting . If you live outside of the U.S., look up the website for your nation’s official weather organization.
- Frequently exposing yourself to airborne pollution may increase your risk of lung cancer as much as frequent exposure to secondhand smoke.
Avoid exposure to carcinogens at the workplace.Substances and chemicals such as asbestos, formaldehyde, benzene, and arsenic are all types of carcinogens that have been found to cause lung cancer. If you spend time working with carcinogens, follow the necessary precautions to lower your exposure to these substances.
- This includes wearing protective gear such as a face mask, goggles, pants, long-sleeved shirts, and jackets.
- You may be exposed to the substances if you frequently interact with things like silica dust or X-rays while on the job.Contact your office management if you’re not sure if there are carcinogens in your workplace.
Limit your exposure to household cleaning products.Many household cleaning products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), fragrances, and other irritants that can cause lung issues. Although a clean living environment is important, reduce your exposure to cleaning products by using only the amount necessary to clean and storing them correctly. If you use a lot of products, you might wear a face mask while you clean.
- Some "green" cleaning products are better for you. However, this is not always the case. Reading the label and researching the product can help you find out if the product you use is your best option.
Forming Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Exercise at least 2-3 times per week to lower your risk of cancer.Exercise improves overall lung function by increasing blood flow to the lungs and helping eliminate waste from your body, including toxins from cigarette smoke, carcinogens, and other free radicals that increase your risk for lung cancer. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activities per week, and strength-training exercises at least twice per week.
- When strength training, do at least 2–3 sets of 10–15 reps of whatever exercises you prefer.
- Strength-training exercises should work some or all of your major muscle groups. Activities could include curls and bench presses with weight machines, or squatting with free weights.
- Moderate-intensity activities include things like brisk walking, swimming, and cycling. Any type of activity is better than nothing. To evaluate the intensity of an activity, try to talk while you're exercising. If you can talk (but not sing), you're exercising at a moderate level.
Add large amounts of natural, whole foods to your diet.Natural food like fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help prevent lung cancer by strengthening your immune system. Increasing your intake of other natural whole foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes, sources of lean protein, and healthy fats can also help reduce your risk for lung cancer.Some of the healthiest fruits and vegetables include:
- Kale and spinach.
- Strawberries and blueberries.
- Grapefruit, pineapples, and avocado.
Lower your intake of processed foods and foods high in fat and sugar.Unlike natural, whole foods, fatty processed foods offer almost no nutritional value. Instead, they contain unhealthy ingredients and large amounts of sugars, salt, and saturated fats. Highly-processed foods may also pose health risks, which in turn can lower your body’s immune system and increase your risk of lung cancer (in addition to other types of cancer).In addition to low-nutrient processed foods, avoid foods like:
- Cereals with no fiber or added minerals.
- Soda and high-sugar fruit juices.
- Fast food restaurant chains.
Move to an area with good air quality.Air pollutants can increase your risk of developing lung cancer. Look up the air quality ratings for your area to determine if you're at a higher risk. If you are, you may want to relocate to an area with better air quality.
- If you live in an industrial area, it's best to move, if you can. These areas often produce higher pollutants.
Avoid occupations that expose you to lung irritants.Some jobs put you in contact with chemicals and other environmental pollutants. Although not everyone who does these jobs will develop lung cancer, they do increase your risk. Here are a few jobs to avoid:
- House cleaning
What will happen if you smoke
- Consult with your general physician prior to making any sudden changes to your current diet and exercise routine. Your healthcare provider can perform a full examination and recommend prevention methods and treatments as necessary to lower your risk for lung cancer based on your personal health.
- Taking the antioxidant glutathione can help prevent the development of cancer. However, if you do develop cancer, the glutathione can protect the cancer cells and make it harder for you to recover.
- While you should eat vitamin-rich foods, you should not take heavy dosages of vitamins in pill forms. Research has shown that overuse of pill-based vitamin supplements can actually increase the risk of lung cancer in heavy smokers.
Sources and Citations
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