Lung Cancer Awareness

By its very nature, every breath can easily be taken for granted. I was saddened to hear that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., with an estimated 158,000 deaths attributed to it just in 2016. In honor of Lung Cancer Awareness month this November, I wanted to share some hope that survives around this topic. 

Below I have listed three precautions you can take to help reduce your chance of getting lung cancer. (Note: I am not a medical professional. Please see your doctor for regular check-ups and with any lung cancer questions.)

Don’t Smoke
You have heard it before, but it is important to hear again. Don’t smoke! And if you already do, quit! I’m sure it won’t surprise you that 90% of all lung cancers arise from tobacco use. But the good news is there is hope. No matter how long you have smoked, there are benefits to quitting at any age. After you stop smoking, your body begins to repair itself in all areas, including the lungs. Just ten years after quitting the risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of someone who does smoke.

Test for Indoor Toxins
There are some toxins that may be in your home impacting the indoor air quality and affecting your lung health without you even knowing it. If your home was built before the 1980s, it may contain asbestos, a fibrous mineral that was used for insulation in homes and many industrial settings due to its high resistance to heat and fire. Asbestos, however, is now a known carcinogen that causes mesothelioma, a rare cancer that is most commonly found in the lining of the lungs. Found in insulation, roofing shingles, floor tiles, and other areas of the home, asbestos is extremely dangerous when the fibers become airborne through a disturbance such as renovation or fire. Call a professional if you think your home might contain asbestos. It should always be removed professionally by an abatement team.

A second toxin that might be in your home is radon, a colorless, odorless gas that can be found in homes and well water depending on the rock and soil the home rests on. It is estimated that about 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year are related to long-term radon exposure. According to the EPA, nearly 1 in 15 homes in the U.S. has elevated radon levels, that enters through cracks and gaps in the homes’ walls, floors and joints. It can be cheap and easy to test for radon by ordering a test-kit or hiring a professional.

Outdoor Air Pollution
Outdoor air pollution is very bad for the environment–nature, wildlife and humans are all impacted negatively by it. In 2013 the World Health Organization classified outdoor air pollution as a carcinogen. This includes tiny particles of engine exhaust, dust, smoke and chemicals that is in the air that we breath every day. The air pollution levels in the U.S. are relatively low compared to other developed nations, but it still doesn’t hurt to take some preventative actions. For instance, it’s a good practice to not exercise near heavily traveled roads to avoid deeply breathing in exhaust. You may also want to check the air quality forecast in your area each day, and even go as far as wearing a dust mask or staying indoors if the levels are extremely high.

How do you ensure your lungs are receiving clean air? Comment below with your own tips!