Lung cancer is now the deadliest cancer in both women and men, surpassing colon, pancreatic and breast cancer combined. According to the American Lung Association, "Approximately 399,431 Americans are living with lung cancer. During 2014, an estimated 224,210 new cases of lung cancer are expected to be diagnosed, representing about 13 percent of all cancer diagnoses."
Over the past 36 years, there has been a 100% increase in the number of women being diagnosed with lung cancer. In fact, an estimated 1 in 5 women will be diagnosed in her lifetime, with those who are exposed to second-hand smoke having a 20-30% increased chance of diagnosis. With so much education available on the subject of cancer prevention, why do the statistics continue to rise?
Smoking: Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, responsible for 80% in women. It seems despite the medical evidence connecting cigarette smoke to cancer as well as the countless TV ads documenting the physical damage that smoking can do to the body, women still love to light up. (via The Mayo Clinic)
Radon: The second highest cause of lung cancer is Radon. This is a tasteless, odorless and colorless gas that comes from decaying uranium found in rock and soil. It is often found in the basement or first floor of homes, and can even be brought into the home through building materials. (via The Mayo Clinic). While there are services available to test for home radon leaks, many people are either unaware that they exist or do not consider the testing to be a priority.
Exposure to Asbestos/chemicals: Places of business and even older homes can be laced with cancer-causing Asbestos. Other chemicals such as nickel, chromium and even arsenic can also be found in the walls and plumbing. (via The Mayo Clinic). Since removal of these substances can be quite pricey, many people again choose to ignore its presence and never even test for it.
In October of 2013, the World Health Organization reported that the increase in reported lung cancer cases has risen due to an increase in air pollution. While the pollution-caused cases are few and far between when compared to factors like smoking, American Cancer Society National Vice President Elizabeth Ward, PhD says "Even though the lung cancer risk associated with air pollution for an individual in the US is relatively low, even a low risk can be important for a large population where many people are exposed." She added, "As with many other environmental exposures with a relatively small individual risk, large numbers of people exposed to air pollution may result in a significant number of lung cancers."
So what can you do to lessen your chances of developing lung cancer? First of all, quit smoking. We know that quitting isn't easy. It can cause weight gain, moodiness and more, but it could also prolong the years you have to live a healthy life. In addition, quitting can also protect the loved ones around you by eliminating their exposure to second-hand smoke. The Mayo Clinic also suggests to check your home and/or place of business for Radon, Asbestos and other carcinogens. The Mayo Clinic also suggests following a diet full of fruits and vegetables that's high in fiber with minimal amounts of animal protein. Daily exercise is also prescribed in an effort to stay healthy and cancer free.
While there is no fool-proof way to protect yourself from cancer, there are certainly changes you can make to your daily routine to decrease your chances of diagnosis. For more information on the causes of and treatments for lung cancer, visit LungCancer.org.