Do you know that white is the colour for the Lung Cancer awareness ribbon as a symbolism of the characteristic of lung cancer as its symptoms often go unnoticed?
This November, in light of the lung cancer awareness month, we have come up with 5 tips you and your family can adopt to lower your risk of lung cancer.
The exposure to tobacco smoke is the #1 cause of lung cancer. The more cigarettes you smoke, as well as the years you have smoked increase your risk significantly. Even by being exposed to smoke (second-hand smoking) increases your chances of developing lung cancer. Though there are individuals who have never smoked a day in their life, they are still at risk to develop lung cancer, though their chances are less compared to those who smoke or used to smoke.
Working in industries that deal with chemicals and their by-products, like for example shipbuilding, spray painting, asbestos-linked, increases the chance of getting lung cancer. Obesity has also been closely linked to the cause of not just lung cancer but several cancers as excess body fat increases the chances of developing cancer.
There are a number of steps and tips you can follow to decrease your chances of developing lung cancer. We have put together 5 tips that can aid in reducing your risk.
The most important thing you could probably do is stop smoking if you are a smoker.
Quitting smoking, even if you’ve been smoking for a year or decades, is still the best way to prevent lung cancer. Tobacco contains several toxic substances such as Nicotine (an addictive drug that is one of the harshest chemicals in cigarette smoke), Hydrogen Cyanide, Formaldehyde, Lead, Arsenic, Ammonia and Benzene. These substances can also increase the likelihood of other respiratory diseases, not just lung cancer.
By choosing to stop smoking now, despite the years and number of sticks you have smoked, you can steadily decrease your risk of lung cancer for every year you stay clean. It is also important for non-smokers to avoid inhaling tobacco smoke as second-hand smoking. Some actions you can take is seeking out smoke-free areas, restaurants, hotels, etc. Request family and friends not to smoke around you, in your house or even in your car.
Some lung cancer cases have been found to be related to exposures on the job to carcinogens. Some of these toxic chemicals such as Arsenic, Asbestos, Nickel, Radon, Soot and particle pollution-like exhaust smoke. Depending on the years of industrial exposure as well as the type of carcinogens present, the chance of lung cancer varies accordingly.
If you happen to be working in an industry with chemical fumes such as Shipping, Railroads, Spray Painting, Semiconductor etc, do ensure that you are equipped with proper protective gear, with your hands, feet and face covered while on the job. You should also speak to a doctor regarding steps to prevent/lower your risk.
Obesity can lead to lung cancer and, in fact, all cancers, due to the visceral fat in your body - the fat that surrounds your vital organs, that experts believe is mostly due to the inflammation. Visceral fat cells are huge, and there are several of them. The oxygen in the body doesn't have much space in the body for this excess fat, and that environment triggers inflammation.
The body’s natural reaction to injury and disease is inflammation. If an individual happens to get a deep cut, the area around the cut becomes tender and swollen. This minor inflammation aids in repairing the damaged tissue and helps with the healing process around the wounded area. However, not all inflammation is good.
Especially long-term inflammation can damage your body generated by unwanted visceral fat, and therefore, increase your chances for lung cancer or other cancers. When cells reproduce wildly, damaging the cells around them and generating illness is when cancer happens. The higher the chance that something will go wrong, the more cells replicate and reproduce, and a tumour will form.
Due to these factors, it would be in an individual’s best interests to lead and maintain a healthy lifestyle as obesity increases the risk of ALL cancers.
When it comes to boosting your body’s health or even lung health, studies have suggested that a well-balanced nutritious diet can aid in that as for your overall health, a healthy diet is beneficial. It is important to ensure that your diet is comprised of the best quality and quantity of fruits and vegetables. This in turn helps to keep the immune system strong.
Exercise or physical activity has been shown to reduce tension, elevate mood, lessen fatigue, and even generally improve life which can be quite favourable to lung cancer and lung patients. In fact, this can be beneficial to anyone looking to improve on their lifestyle for the better.
Light exercises such as yoga and tai-chi, movements that rely on breathwork and perfect body alignment can help release endorphins, which helps to stabilise the mood, improves sleep and reduces stress. Yoga, in particular, doesn’t just strengthen your immune system, it also helps to build flexibility, mobility and strength. Your system helps to get detoxified through seated, twisting poses, and it also offers you techniques to fight anxiety and stress.
Yoga can also aid in side effects of cancer treatments, such as stress, fatigue and constipation as it helps to keep the oxygen flowing. Another advantage is that yoga breathing techniques in particular can be done anywhere, at any time. While undergoing treatment, while waiting for the doctor’s appointment, practising at work or at home. The benefits and places are endless.
Through yoga, individuals can experience a sense of improved well-being as they focus their attention on transitioning from one pose to another, allowing them to connect to their breath and the mind-body connection. In short, yoga is one physical activity that brings benefits to both body and mind.
Get your lungs checked, especially if you happen to be a heavy smoker or an individual who has quit smoking in the last 10 years, has a family history of lung cancer, is a cancer survivor from lung or other cancers or works in an industry with chemical fumes.
The earlier the stage when diagnosed, the better the chances of getting cured of lung cancer (up to 80%). An early detection aids in the individual receiving a minimally invasive thoracic surgical procedure - which means faster recovery & shorter hospital stay.
At ICTS, we have put together an Early CT-CDT Lung Screening for the early detection of lung cancer. It includes an EarlyCDT-Lung Blood Test which can detect lung cancer-associated autoantibodies, and Low-Dose CT Scan to show early-stage lung nodules which may be too small to be detected by a traditional X-ray.
Read more about our Early CT-CDT Lung Screening here.
Though it goes by the name ‘smoker’s disease,’ individuals are oftentimes unaware that there are other risk factors ranging from occupational exposures to obesity. Thus, they fail to take the steps to avoid them.
It’s never too late to start reducing the risk factors and investing in those changes to your lifestyle that can help prevent lung cancer. Despite an individual’s smoking history, they can still put in the effort to additionally, lessen their family’s risk, not just theirs, of lung cancer.