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Three Steps To Reduce Your Risk of Lung Cancer

November 13, 2023

Did you know that lung cancer is the deadliest cancer in the United States, and claims more lives each year than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined? While you let that sink in, consider these other statistics:

  • About 80-90% of all lung cancer deaths are attributed to smoking.
  • Up to 20% of Americans that die of lung cancer each year have never smoked.
  • In 2023, an estimated 238,340 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer, and 127,070 deaths are expected in the U.S.
  • In Texas, an estimated 14,510 new lung cancer cases and 8,330 deaths are expected from the disease in 2023.

It is important to understand that lung cancer is often preventable. Every action taken to protect lung health is a step in the right direction.

Are You at Risk for Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer tends to affect individuals over the age of 65, but certain behaviors and environmental factors can elevate risk, even at a younger age.

Three important steps to reduce risk of lung cancer are:

  1. Don’t smoke. The primary and most well-known risk factor for lung cancer is tobacco smoke. Extensive evidence links smoking to most lung cancer deaths. Quitting smoking, regardless of age, is the most effective way to reduce the risk of lung cancer and other health issues including heart attack and stroke. You can find support to quit through programs such as the Quitline, a hotline supported by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
  2. Eliminate exposure to hazardous gases and materials. Radon, a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas, can enter and become concentrated in indoor spaces through cracks. People exposed to radon over an extended period of time have a higher risk for lung cancer. Test your home for radon to decrease exposure. Similarly, asbestos, a type of fibrous mineral, found in places such as mines, mills, textile plants, or older homes as insulation, can also be a cancer risk if inhaled.
  3. Eat a healthy diet. Research suggests that both smokers and non-smokers can reduce their cancer risk by adopting a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Be sure to keep weight and blood sugar in a healthy range.

Stay Aware of Symptoms

Lung cancer symptoms can vary from person to person. Watch for notable changes and communicate concerns with a physician. Common symptoms of include:

  • Chest pain worsened by deep breathing
  • Coughing, coughing up blood, phlegm, or experiencing a persistent cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Loss of appetite and/or unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Wheezing, breathing difficulties, or shortness of breath
  • Frequent or persistent lung infections

Lung cancer is a significant threat, with about 1 in 16 men, and 1 in 17 women expected to receive a diagnosis in their lifetime. In addition, lung cancer is often diagnosed at later stage, making it more challenging to treat.

That’s what makes right now the right time to learn more about the risks associated with lung cancer, whether you smoke or not. By taking steps to reduce risk factors, staying vigilant for symptoms, and getting regular screenings with a trusted healthcare provider, progress can be made in the fight against this deadly disease.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.