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How can I help prevent lung cancer?

The best ways to prevent lung cancer is to never smoke tobacco and to avoid second hand smoke exposure. When you quit smoking, you begin to reduce your risk for lung cancer and the risk will gradually decrease for 10 years at which time it stays steady. However, it will never decrease to the low baseline risk of someone who has never smoked. Currently, one half of lung cancers develop in former smokers. No medicine, herbal agent or vitamin has been found to reduce the risk for lung cancer in smokers or former smokers.

Lung cancer may be prevented by avoiding risk factors associated with the disease, most notably smoking of cigarettes, pipes and cigars. If you currently smoke, you can still reduce your risk of lung cancer by quitting now. Other risk factors to avoid include secondhand smoke, polluted air, heavy alcohol consumption, some work-associated chemicals, radon gas and asbestos. Exercise and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables have also been shown to reduce the risk of cancer risk.

Dr. Raja M. Flores, MD
Cardiothoracic Surgeon

If you are in a high-risk group for lung cancer, get a CT scan, says Raja Flores, MD, thoracic surgeon at The Mount Sinai Medical Center. In this video, he explains how avoiding cigarette smoke can also help prevent lung cancer.

Avoiding certain risk factors can reduce the chance of developing lung cancer, but there is no known way to prevent all cases.

The number one thing people can do to reduce their risk of developing lung cancer is not to smoke and to avoid secondhand smoke. Other steps that people can take to help reduce the risk for developing lung cancer include:

  • Testing and treating their home for radon.
  • Protecting themselves from cancer-causing chemicals at work.
  • Maintaining a good diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.

You can take steps to prevent lung cancer.

  • If you are a smoker, stop. There are many classes and aids to help you stop smoking today. Talk to your doctor about the options you can explore.
  • If you are a nonsmoker, try to avoid second-hand smoke.
  • Test your home for radon, especially if you live in an area known to have high levels. State radon offices can offer more information on correcting this problem. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website, located at www.epa.gov/iaq/contacts.html, also provides information on how to lower radon levels in homes.
  • Be aware of and limit your contact to workplace chemicals that can be harmful. These include nickel, chromate, asbestos and vinyl chloride.

Lung cancer can be prevented. The majority of lung cancers are caused by smoking. If you avoid smoking, you can decrease your lung cancer risk.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.