Lung cancer: Dr Amir describes the symptoms in February
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Lung cancer has a remarkably high prevention rate for cancer of around 79 percent; this means it is very easy for someone to avoid developing the condition.
One of the best ways to reduce your risk of developing lung cancer is by not smoking – the habit is said to be responsible for around 70 percent of cases.
But it isn’t the only cause, there are other factors which can increase someone’s risk of the disease.
Other risk factors listed by the NHS and Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation include:
• Passive smoking
• Exposure to radon gas
• Occupational exposure
• Poor diet.
In research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, consuming a diet with a high glycemic index, a classification of how rapidly carbohydrates elevate blood sugar levels, was independently associated with an increased risk of developing lung cancer.
A balanced diet is key to keeping the body in optimum working condition.
The American Lung Association said: “There is some evidence that eating a plant-based diet high in fruits and vegetables, can lower your risk of developing lung cancer but more research needs to be done.
“It is hard to know exactly how many fruits and vegetables you may need to lower your risk but trying to make half of your plate fresh fruits and vegetables at meals is a good place to start.”
Passive smoking is when you breathe in someone else’s cigarette smoke.
And it’s the only type of smoking which can increase your risk, so too could thirdhand smoking; this type occurs when someone breathes in carcinogens present in places where someone has smoked. If you walk into a place and it smells of cigarette smoke, you’re third-hand smoking.
Alongside passive smoking, the NHS also lists exposure to radon gas, one dangerous for all manner of reasons.
What is radon gas?
The government describes radon as “a colourless, odourless radioactive gas…formed by the radioactive decay of small amounts of uranium that occur naturally in all rocks and soils”.
It adds: “For most people, radon is the single largest source of radiation exposure whether they are at home or at work.”
Furthermore, risks can be posed to people at work too. Prolonged occupational exposure to certain gases such as nickel, asbestos, beryllium, cadmium, coal, silica, and nickel fumes can dramatically increase the risk of lung cancer.
The most famous example of this is actor Steve McQueen. The star of Le Mans and the Great Escape died from pleural mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer said to have been caused by his exposure to asbestos while working in the United States Marine Corps.
McQueen was a petrol head, but it isn’t this fuel that dramatically increases your risk of lung cancer. Instead, it’s diesel which could cause problems.
The NHS says: “Research suggests that being exposed to diesel fumes over many years increases your risk of developing lung cancer.
“One study has shown your risk of developing lung cancer increase by around 33 percent if you live in an area with high levels of nitrogen oxide gases.”
Diesel’s link to an increased risk of lung cancer is reflected by the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation who lists diesel fumes as one of its risk factors for lung cancer.
National Clinical Director for Cancer’s Professor Peter Johnson said: “We have seen record numbers of people coming forward for tests and checks in the last year thanks to our campaigns and early diagnosis initiatives, and we are working hard to diagnose lung cancers earlier with our targeted lung health checks.
“Lung cancer is not always linked to smoking and its vital that everyone stays alert against suspected symptoms – so if you have a continuous cough or breathlessness, don’t ignore or assume it’s something else, please visit your GP and get it checked out – it probably won’t be cancer but catching it early can help save lives.”
The NHS is currently running a joint campaign with the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation as part of a call to action to help raise awareness of the symptoms of the disease.
The main symptoms of lung cancer are:
• A cough that doesn’t go away after two or three weeks
• A long-standing cough that gets worse
• Chest infections that keep coming back
• Coughing up blood
• An ache or pain when breathing or coughing
• Persistent breathlessness
• Persistent tiredness or lack of energy
• Loss of appetite
• Unexplained weight loss.
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