Each year, November raises awareness for the prevention of lung cancer. Well, what exactly is lung cancer? As defined by CancerCare®, lung cancer occurs when abnormal cells are developed in one or both lungs, where these cells do not allow the lungs to function normally and prevent them from developing healthy lung tissue. Tumors may appear from the growth of the abnormal cells, lessening the production of oxygen to the rest of the body (via blood).
How Common is Lung Cancer?
Did you know that just this year alone, there will be an estimated 222,500 new cases of lung cancer, and of those cases, an estimated 155,870 people will die from this disease? According to the National Cancer Institute, lung and bronchus cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among Americans (after breast cancer) and is the leading cause of cancer deaths.
Who Gets Lung Cancer?
The probability of developing this cancer is slightly higher in men, particularly in African American men. The median age at diagnosis for people with lung cancer is 70 years old and the median age of death from lung cancer is 72 years old (The National Cancer Institute).
Cigarette smoking is widely recognized as the leading cause of lung cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths are caused by cigarette smoking. Smoking may also cause cancer of the mouth and throat, esophagus, stomach, colon, liver and much more. Current smokers are about 25% more likely to die from lung cancer compared to nonsmokers. Being exposed to secondhand smoke is also a risk factor for developing lung cancer. In fact, toxic chemicals and concentrations are higher in secondhand smoke then in the smoke that is directly inhaled by smokers. Those who come in contact with secondhand smoke increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20% to 30%.
Lung Cancer Prevention Tips
Help lower your risk of developing lung cancer with these easy steps:
- Don’t smoke. The easiest and most important way to prevent lung cancer is to not smoke or quit if you are a current smoker.
- Avoid secondhand smoke. Steer clear of other people’s cigarettes and cigars. Protect yourself and your family with a smoke-free home and car.
- Get your home tested for radon. Radon, a naturally occurring gas that comes from rocks and dirt, is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Make sure your home is radon free.
- Limit alcohol use. The heavy consumption of beer and hard alcohol have been linked to an elevated risk of developing lung (and many other) cancer(s).
- Indulge in a healthy diet. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of developing lung cancer. Recent studies suggest that the variety may be more important than the quantity. Try to avoid large doses of these vitamins in a pill form.
- Exercise every week. Physical activity lowers your risk of developing lung cancer, as well as well as many other cancers. Try to exercise at least 2-3 times per week. Exercise does not need to be at intense levels or in a fancy facility.
- Get Screened. The sooner cancer is detected, the chances of preventing spreading is increased as well as survival. Previous smoker’s in-particular should make an effort to get screened.
- Know your family history. Being aware of your family history gives you the precautionary advantage to regularly get screened and make sure you are taking good care of your body.
#LungCancerAwarenessMonth #November #RaiseAwareness