Tips for Reducing Your Risk of Developing Lung Cancer
Lung cancer prevention goes beyond avoiding smoking. More than half of people who develop lung cancer at this time are not current smokers. What are 10 things you can do today to lower your risk?
1. Don’t Smoke (And if You Quit, Get Screened)
Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, responsible for 80 to 90 percent of lung cancers.
It is never too late to quit smoking. For those who have been diagnosed with lung cancer, smoking cessation may improve survival.
What many people do not realize is that chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis) are an independent risk factor for lung cancer. In other words, having COPD increases your risk of lung cancer whether or not you have smoked, and to a very significant degree. Considering that COPD is now the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States, this is of great concern.
Unfortunately, the risk of lung cancer does not go back to normal after a person quits, and lung cancer is now more common in former smokers than current smokers. If this makes you uncomfortable, keep in mind that a screening test for lung cancer is now available for people who once smoked but kicked the habit.
2. Check Your Home for Radon
For non-smokers, checking your home for radon is the number one thing you can do for lung cancer prevention. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer overall.
Radon is an odorless gas that results from the decay of natural uranium in the soil beneath our homes. Elevated levels of radon have been found in homes in all 50 states and around the world. The only way to know if you are at risk is to test your home for radon.
There has been some concern about granite in countertops causing lung cancer. Though some granite countertops may emit dangerous levels of radon, this is of much less concern that radon exposure from the soil beneath your home.
3. Be Careful and Aware at Work
It’s estimated that up to 29 percent of lung cancers in men are related to on-the-job exposures to cancer-causing substances. The number is slightly lower, estimated at five percent of lung cancers in women having an occupational component
Many of these works collectively with smoking to raise your risk even further. Employers are required to provide Material Safety Data Sheets on chemicals you may be exposed to at work. Make sure to check these out.
4. Be Careful and Aware at Home
Lung cancer prevention is important at home as well. Chemicals that contribute to lung cancer are found not only at the workplace but may be under your sink or in your garage. Carefully read labels on household products and follow the instructions for safe usage. Wood smoke from wood-burning stoves and fireplaces may also increase the risk of developing lung cancer.