Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers not only in the U.S. but also worldwide. According to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Statistics Center, more than 235,000 individuals in the United States will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2021, and 131,000 Americans will die from it.
This is why knowing and understanding the causes of lung cancer is the first step in preventing this disease.
How to Prevent Lung Cancer: Know Your Risk Factors
A cancer risk factor increases the likelihood of a person developing a particular disease–in this case, lung cancer. Some risk factors for lung cancer can be controlled, while some cannot.
The risk factors for lung cancer are:
Smoking. About 80 percent of lung cancer mortalities are attributed to tobacco use. This is the predominant cause of lung cancer. This is a risk factor you can control: Quit your smoking habit now or, better yet, never start at all. If you or someone you know needs help with quitting, call the Florida Quitline at 1-877-U-CAN-NOW (1-877-822-6669).
Radon Exposure. Radon is a radioactive gas that can escape from the ground or mix with the water supply. Long-term exposure to radon via inhalation and ingestion is the second major cause of lung cancer. It accounts for approximately 15,000 to 22,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. This is a factor you may not be able to completely control, but you can test radon levels at home by hiring experts or by using detection kits. You can mitigate any high radon levels you find by hiring a qualified professional.
Other Lung Carcinogens. Cancer-causing agents are everywhere–whether you’re at home or at the workplace. Be vigilant in trying to avoid these lung carcinogens:
- Second-hand smoke
- Diesel exhaust
- Exposure to toxic chemicals (arsenic, vinyl chloride, cadmium, etc.)
Beta Carotene Supplements. Medical studies indicated that beta carotene supplementation was significantly linked to the increased risk of lung cancer among current smokers. The same applies to individuals with a history of nicotine use. Smokers or ex-smokers, in general, should limit their dietary intake of beta carotene.
Well-Balanced Diet and Exercise. Choosing a healthy lifestyle is important; it not only lowers your chances of getting lung cancer but decreases your risks for other diseases, as well!
Family History. Knowing that lung cancer runs in the family should inspire you to be screened as early as possible. Early detection of lung cancer leads to more treatment options and a higher survival rate.
Prevention is better than cure. However, there are instances where even the most health-conscious person finds themselves diagnosed with lung cancer. Genetics may be a factor, and sometimes the cause can be unknown.
If you are diagnosed with lung cancer, talk with your loved ones and your cancer support team about available treatment strategies and, if possible, get a second opinion. This will give you more confidence and knowledge in choosing the most appropriate treatment option for you.