Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women — not just in the United States but worldwide. An estimated 90% of lung cancer deaths are preventable through increased awareness and taking steps to actively prevent it.
The most obvious method of lowering risk for lung cancer is to avoid smoking. If you already smoke, quit. Quitting smoking at any time can lower the risk of developing lung cancer, and it’s also beneficial to quit smoking even if you’ve already been diagnosed with lung cancer. In the United States, smoking is responsible for 87% of lung cancer cases. Talk to your doctor about how to quit smoking. Even if you don’t smoke yourself, avoid exposure to secondhand smoke from others.
The second leading cause of lung cancer overall is exposure to radon in the home. For non-smokers, this is the number one cause of lung cancer. Radon is an invisible gas that is radioactive. It’s caused by the natural, radioactive breakdown of uranium in soil, water, and rocks. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, the risk of developing lung cancer increases significantly. So, what can you do? Head to your favorite hardware store and pick up a radon testing kit — testing is quick and easy. Even if radon levels are high, there are systems that can be put in place relatively easily and inexpensively to lower the amount of radon to safe levels. Learn more about radon testing at the EPA’s website.
Exposure to asbestos can also cause lung cancer, and just like with radon, exposure to asbestos plus smoking can be a dangerous combination. If your house was built before 1970, it could contain asbestos insulation. Left alone, asbestos insulation usually isn’t an issue, but if you’re planning to renovate or remodel, make sure that your contractor is certified to work with asbestos.
It’s also important to take precautions when using chemicals at home and at work. Check the labels of the products you use, and protect yourself and ventilate accordingly when using chemicals like wood strippers or paint thinners.
Limiting your exposure to chemicals and substances that can damage your lungs can help to lower your chances of developing lung cancer. And even if you’ve already been diagnosed with lung cancer, taking these same precautions can still be helpful ways to improve treatment outcomes.
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