Worried about lung cancer? Here’s three ways to reduce your risk.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in New Zealand. That’s a really alarming fact. But there is hope, especially if lung cancer is discovered and treated early.

Who’s at risk of lung cancer?

Anyone can get lung cancer. It can affect both men and women, young and old, smokers and non-smokers, but it is more commonly diagnosed in people over 50.

The good news is that there are some lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of lung cancer.

Here are three steps you can take:

1. Avoid cigarette smoke

Smoking cigarettes is the biggest cause of lung cancer, so if you’re a smoker, kicking the habit is the number one thing you can do to reduce your risk. Quitting smoking at any time, even if you’ve been a heavy or long-term smoker, goes a long way to improving your health and reducing your risk of lung cancer.

Breathing second-hand smoke (or passive smoking) is also a known cause of lung cancer. You may not be directly smoking, but second-hand smoke contains the same harmful chemicals as cigarettes and can be just as dangerous to your health. To reduce your risk of lung cancer, stay away from areas where people are smoking, especially indoors.

2. Make healthy choices

Living a healthy lifestyle through a balanced diet and exercise, limiting your alcohol intake and keeping a healthy weight go a long way to reducing your risk of all cancers, including lung cancer.

There are also chemical toxins which have been linked to lung cancer, so it’s important to be aware of these and avoid them where possible:

  • Asbestos, coal gas, chromates, nickel, arsenic, vinyl chloride, mustard gas and radon
  • Air pollution

3. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer

If you notice any of the common symptoms of lung cancer, such as difficulty breathing, a chronic cough, infections, coughing up blood or shoulder and chest pain that worsens with breathing, see your doctor as soon as possible!

Next steps

There are a number of conditions that can cause these symptoms besides lung cancer, which is why it’s so important to check any changes with your doctor. Learn more about the signs and symptoms of lung cancer here.

Early detection of lung cancer gives you the best chance of successful treatment and cure, so it is vital to find it as early as possible. The problem is that in the early stages, you might not experience any obvious signs or symptoms at all, so many people are not diagnosed until after their lung cancer has already grown and spread.

Talk to your doctor if you think you might be at risk of lung cancer. Seeking treatment as soon as you notice symptoms will give you the best chance of successful treatment.


For a full list of references, click here.

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