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In conjunction with Lung Cancer Awareness Month, let's look into the cause and risk of getting lung cancer, and what are the things you can do to reduce your risk or prevent lung cancer!
Smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. People who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer than people who do not smoke. The use of other tobacco products such as cigars or pipes can also increase the risk of lung cancer. Tobacco smoke is a toxic mixture of more than 7,000 chemical substances. Many are poisons. At least 70 species are known to cause cancer in humans or animals.
In fact, not only lung cancer, smoking can cause cancer in almost any part of the body. Smoking causes cancer of the mouth and throat, stomach, colon, liver, pancreas, voicebox (larynx), kidney and renal pelvis, urinary bladder, etc.
Wait, how about E-cigarettes?
E-cigarette is an electronic nicotine delivery system. Although they do not contain any tobacco, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies them as "tobacco" products. E-cigarettes are fairly new, and more research is needed to understand the possible long-term effects, including the risk of lung cancer.
Smoke from other people’s cigarettes, pipes, or cigars (secondhand smoke) can also cause lung cancer. When a person inhales secondhand smoke, it is as if he or she is smoking.
Examples of substances that increase risk found in certain workplaces include asbestos, arsenic, diesel engine exhaust, and certain forms of silica and chromium. For many of these substances, smokers have a higher risk of lung cancer.
People who have received chest radiation therapy for other cancers have a higher risk of lung cancer, especially if they smoke. Examples include people who have been treated for Hodgkin’s disease or women who have received breast radiation after a mastectomy for breast cancer.
In cities, air pollution (especially near busy roads) seems to slightly increase the risk of lung cancer.
This risk is much lower than the risk caused by smoking, but some researchers estimate that approximately 5% of lung cancer deaths worldwide may be due to outdoor air pollution.
If you are a lung cancer survivor, you may get another type of lung cancer, especially if you smoke. If your parents, brothers or sisters, or children have lung cancer, your risk of lung cancer can also be higher. This may be true because they also smoke, or they live or work where they are exposed to radon and other substances that can cause lung cancer.
Scientists know how some risk factors of lung cancer cause certain changes in lung cell DNA. These changes can cause abnormal cell growth and sometimes cancer.
Not all lung cancers can be prevented. But you can take some measures to reduce the risk, such as changing the risk factors you can control.
The best way to reduce your risk of lung cancer is not to smoke and to avoid breathing in other people’s smoke. Even smoking a few cigarettes a day or smoking occasionally increases the risk of lung cancer. The more years a person smokes and the more cigarettes smoked each day, the more risk goes up.
If you stop smoking before cancer develops, your damaged lung tissue gradually starts to repair itself. No matter what your age or how long you’ve smoked, quitting smoking can lower the risk of lung cancer and help you live longer.
Radon is an important cause of lung cancer. If needed, you can reduce your exposure to radon by testing and treating your home. Avoiding exposure to known cancer-causing agents in the workplace and elsewhere may also help.
A healthy diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables may also help reduce the risk of lung cancer. Some evidence suggests that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help protect smokers and non-smokers against lung cancer. But any positive effect of fruits and vegetables on lung cancer risk is far less than the increased risk of smoking.
So far, it has not been successful to reduce the risk of lung cancer in people who currently smoke or previously smoked by giving high doses of vitamins or vitamin drugs. In fact, some studies have found that supplementation of β-carotene (a nutrient related to vitamin A) seems to increase the incidence of lung cancer in these people.
So if you are a smoker, quit now, it is never too late to live a healthy life. If you do not smoke, eat a helathy diet, it benefits you not only by preventing lung cancer but from many aspects of health!
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Disclaimer: As a service to our users and general public, DOC2US provides health education contents. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
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