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Lung Cancer (cont.)

Prevention

Experts have identified several causes of lung cancer. Most lung cancers are caused by the use of tobacco. Changing your lifestyle can, over time, gradually reduce some of your risk for lung cancer.

Tobacco

Tobacco use is the leading cause of lung cancer. More than 85% of lung cancers are caused by smoking.

To prevent lung and other cancers, do not use tobacco. If you do use tobacco, you can reduce your risk of lung cancer by quitting. Your risk will gradually decrease with time as your lungs recover. Quitting smoking reduces your risk for cancer, and your risk continues to decrease as long as you do not smoke. The benefit of quitting smoking is greater the younger you quit.11

Even cutting down how much you smoke may reduce your risk (but not as much as quitting completely). In one study, cutting in half the number of cigarettes smoked each day significantly reduced the risk of getting lung cancer during a 5- to 10-year period.12

Nicotine gum, medicated nicotine inhalers, nicotine patches, and oral medicines such as varenicline (Chantix)) or bupropion are available to help you to quit smoking. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.

Other exposure risk factors

Other things that increase your risk of lung cancer include asbestos, secondhand smoke, and radon exposure. Certain occupations, such as mining and farming, expose people to fumes, radioactive dust, or other chemicals that may be harmful. Taking precautions to reduce your exposure to harmful substances in your environment can reduce your risk of developing lung cancer.

Radiation therapy to the chest area can increase your risk.

Diet

Recent studies on the connection between diet and lung cancer have shown mixed results. Antioxidants, phytoestrogens (found in a wide variety of whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and soy products), and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli) may reduce the risk of lung cancer. But there is not clear evidence that these foods help protect high risk people. Other research shows that taking supplements of beta-carotene, vitamin E, and retinoids may actually be harmful and increase the risk of lung cancer in people who continue to smoke.13

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