World Lung Cancer Day 2022: Lung cancer is the fourth most common cancer in our country but can be prevented by making some healthy lifestyle changes. While there is no sureshot way to avoid this cancer, quitting smoking is the first step towards minimizing the risk of getting this deadly disease. It is a silent killer as there are rarely any symptoms of lung cancer in its early stages and the signs start showing once the disease is advanced. A new that is persistent, blood while coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, unexpected weight loss, bone pain are some of the telltale signs of lung cancer. (Also read: Tips to quit smoking: 10 easy ways to conquer tobacco cravings)
“The most important step to take is to stay away from cigarette smoke. Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of lung cancer by 30 to 50% over the next 10 years,” says Dr Ishu Gupta, Consultant Medical Oncology, Fortis Hospital, Noida.
Passive smoking is equally dangerous if not more. Being around a chain smoker can also invite this disease.
“In case you don’t smoke but have exposure to cigarette smoke, you are also at a higher risk of lung cancer. This is referred to as second-hand smoking. So not just is it important not to smoke, but also it is equally important to stay away from people who smoke around you,” adds Dr Gupta.
“When you inhale second-hand smoke, you’re breathing in a lot of the chemicals from cigarettes that leads to lung cancer,” says Dr K. Pavithran, Clinical Professor and Head, Department of Medical Oncology, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi, Kerala.
Exposure to hazardous pollutants could raise your risk of lung cancer
Another significant factor to consider is exposure to other hazardous pollutants. Even indoor pollution could lead to exposure.
“For example, exposure to asbestos, radon, and silica should be minimized. You can be exposed to these substances at your workplace, or sometimes even in your home. There are commercial services available that can help you test your place for radon exposure, ” says Dr. Gupta.
Talking about the harmful effects of inhaling radon Dr Arun Chandrasekharan, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Aster MIMS Calicut says it is most commonly found inside homes, schools, and workplaces.
“After entering buildings through cracks and other holes in the foundation, radon gas becomes trapped indoors. With proven, cost-effective techniques, indoor radon levels can be controlled and managed. The risk of lung cancer increases over time when you breathe radon. Getting having your home tested for radon gas is a good idea. Home testing kits are available or you can hire a specialist to test your home. Experts can provide solutions to reduce the level of radon in your home if it is high,” says Dr Chandrasekharan.
Daily exercise, yoga and eating a nutritious diet can cut down the risk of lung cancer as it helps in improving lung function, reducing inflammation and stress.
“Regular exercise helps improve lung function, reduce inflammation and improve your overall health. Similarly, a healthy balanced diet is important to prevent chronic diseases,” says the expert.
“Including lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet may also help reduce your lung cancer risk. Fruits and vegetables have been shown to help prevent lung cancer in both smokers and non-smokers,” says Dr Pavithran.
“Another important part of preventing lung cancer is detecting it early. With years of research, it has been recommended that people who are chronic smokers should undergo a low-dose CT scan of the chest to screen for lung cancer. The radiation emitted from this is minimal and safe for your body, takes about 5-10 minutes and is painless. It can help identify lung cancer at an early stage, thereby increasing the chance of success with treatment,” adds Dr Gupta.
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