Lung Cancer


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I recently attended the funeral of a long-time friend who died of lung cancer. The service was a beautiful memorial to her. When her daughter and then her 16-year-old granddaughter spoke about the love of their mother and grandmother, there wasn’t a dry eye in that large church.

My 72-year-old friend had made a big impact on her community and her family, but she died much too soon.

Lung cancer is the number-one cancer killer in the U.S. Most lung cancer is a direct result of smoking, but my friend didn’t smoke.

According to the American Cancer Society as many as 20% of the people who die from lung cancer in the United States don’t smoke or use tobacco.

Lung cancer in smokers is the leading cause of cancer death, but lung cancer in nonsmokers still ranks among the top 10 fatal cancers in the U.S.

Radon gas is one of the leading causes of lung cancer in nonsmokers. Exposure to radon usually comes from living in a home built on soil with natural uranium deposits. The EPA has recommended that everyone get their home tested for this deadly gas.

Even though homes in most of Texas are considered to be low-risk, I have just purchased a top-rated (by Consumer Reports) radon detection test kit from Amazon for under $25.

Secondhand smoke is another cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. If you grew up in a home with smokers, you are at higher risk of lung cancer.

There is a higher incidence of respiratory diseases and lung cancer among short-order cooks who do a lot of frying. A study from UC-Davis found that bacon fumes cause about four times more DNA mutations than the fumes from beef patties fried at the same temperature.

Even eating deep-fried foods such as French fries, fried chicken, fried fish, doughnuts, and/or snack chips (Fritos, potato chips, tortilla chips) has been associated with a higher rate of lung (and pancreatic) cancers. Deep-frying calls for high temperatures, usually using vegetable oils like canola, corn and soybean oil, which are easily oxidized and can generate carcinogenic compounds.

How can nonsmokers reduce their risk of lung cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, you should first test your home for radon.

Stay away from secondhand smoke.

Limit your exposure to air pollution (such as asbestos and diesel exhaust).

Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables which can be very helpful in preventing lethal lung diseases.

Give up stir-fried, deep-fried and grilled meats. Give up the consumption of cured meat like bacon, bologna, ham, hot dogs, sausage and salami, as they may increase the risk of lung disease due to the nitrite preservatives in the meat. It may mimic the lung-damaging properties of the nitrite by-products of cigarette smoke.

Ninety percent of lung cancer deaths are due to metastasis, which is the spread of the cancer to other parts of the body. In a 2010 study of human lung cancer cells in a petri dish, dripping some cruciferous-vegetable compounds onto the cancer cells resulted in the pulling together of the cells – which stunted the “cancer creep.” This indicates it could be helpful to eat some cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower daily.

A diet with more whole plant foods may help both prevent and arrest the progression of lung cancer.

RIP my sweet friend.

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© 2010-2016 Melinda Coker

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Categories : Blog, Cancer

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