Did You Know These 5 Things Are Linked To Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer statistics speak for themselves. As the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women, this is a serious condition that impacts hundreds of thousands of people every year.
And while the seriousness of lung cancer should not be overlooked, it’s important to recognize that there are things you can do to prevent it and promote lung health overall. One of the most significant ways you can protect your lungs is to learn more about the everyday things that can harm them, as well as steps you can take to avoid them all together.
Smoking is by far the biggest risk factor for lung cancer. About 8 in 10 lung cancer deaths are linked to smoking. The longer you smoke and the more you smoke each day, the greater your risk. Cigar and pipe smoking are almost as likely to cause lung cancer as cigarette smoking.
What You Can Do: Of course you all know the answer to this one, stop smoking. Keep in mind, though, only you can decide if you’re ready to quit. However, if you do decide to, the benefits will be more than worth it.
To quit smoking, the first step is to come up with a plan in the form of an upcoming goal or quit date. Make sure that during this time you utilize support from friends and family, as well as classes and support groups.
Even if you don’t smoke, if someone near you does, you are likely to breathe it in. Surprisingly, a single cigar can create as much secondhand smoke as a whole pack of cigarettes. So even if you don’t smoke, by breathing it in secondhand, you are causing instant harm to the lungs, heart and blood vessels.
What You Can Do: Be mindful of this if you’re around people who are smoking and try to stay at least 2 meters or 6 feet away, or better yet, avoid areas with smokers all together. If you live with a smoker, ask that he or she smokes outside. Opening windows, air filters and air ventilation systems may lessen contact with secondhand smoke as well.
Radon is dangerous colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that naturally comes from rocks and soil. In fact, Gwinnett County is among the four counties in Georgia for highest predicted average indoor radon level. It can enter the air and get breathed into the lungs. Outdoor levels of radon are not usually a concern, but radon can collect in the lower parts of buildings, such as the basements of homes.
What You Can Do: Testing for radon is inexpensive, easy, and the only way to know if you and your family are at risk of exposure. A radon test kit may be purchased at the UGA Extension office for $10. Their address is 750 S Perry St., 4th floor, Lawrenceville, GA 30046. Phone 678-377-4010. A kit may also be purchased on line for $13. Visit www.UGARadon.org to purchase a kit on line.
Asbestos is a type of mineral fiber found in rocks and soil in many parts of the world. It has been used for many years in insulation and other products like floor tiles, cement and heating equipment. Products that contain asbestos are only a concern if they become damaged and release breathable asbestos fibers. Breathing in asbestos fibers can raise your risk for lung cancer because it causes scarring of lung tissue. This is especially a concern for people who work around asbestos for many years.
What You Can Do: If you believe that you may have asbestos in your home, contact a professional to remove it. Do not touch it yourself as you may release asbestos fibers into the air. Before professionals remove the asbestos, make sure that all members of the house, including pets, are out of the work area. Also, notify neighbors since they are in close proximity.
Chemicals & Air Pollution
There are other chemicals that have been linked to lung cancer, but these are found primarily in the workplace. The chemicals include arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, silica, vinyl chloride, nickel compounds, chromium compounds, coal products, mustard gas, diesel exhaust, and chloromethyl ethers. Additional chemicals to be aware of include some forms of air pollution, such as car exhaust. This is especially true if you live near roads that have lots of traffic.
What You Can Do: Keep a look out for signs of irritation from these chemicals, including the symptoms below. If you notice any of these, make sure to work with your doctor to determine the cause and necessary treatment:
- Irritation to the lungs, throat and eyes
- A burning sensation of the eyes
- Coughing and tightness in the chest
To prevent irritation and/or harmful exposure to chemicals in the workplace, make sure to use personal protective equipment such as protective glasses, a face mask and gloves. Also, work with your employer to ensure proper ventilation systems are in place.
Treating Your Lungs Well
Lung health can be complex. With a myriad of factors that impact them on a daily basis it’s important to learn about the most common ones so that you are able to avoid them. And don’t forget to practice healthy lung behaviors to help prevent lung cancer and give your lungs the beneficial boost they need.
In the event that you or a loved one is diagnosed with lung cancer, you have access to some of the best specialists and care at Gwinnett Medical Center’s Cancer Institute. With a continuum of cancer care offered by experts in hematology and oncology, you will receive thorough customized care at every stage of the healing process.