Lung Cancer has now passed Breast Cancer as the deadliest Cancer Killer for Women in the Western World.
The present indication is that Lung Cancer is due to the very large and intensive marketing push made by the Tobacco industry some 50 years or so ago which targeted women specifically. This marketing continues today aimed at young girls and women throughout the western world.
It is ironic that the number of men smoking has steadily declined over the past few decades, while the number of women has increased.
The cause of Lung Cancer in the majority of cases can be traced back to what we put into our lungs, whether that is smoke or polluted air or even industrial byproducts and waste.
There are some cases when your genetic heritage is a factor in getting Lung Cancer, but that pales into insignificance when compared to cigarette smoking.
It is generally agreed that cigarette smoking is the most important risk factor, and that risk increases with the quantity and the duration of cigarette consumption.
Cigar and pipe smoking also increases your risk, as does the use of chewing tobacco, which is also implicated in a number of other types of cancer, such as throat and mouth.
Marijuana smoke contains many of the same carcinogens as those in tobacco smoke. However the effect of smoking cannabis on lung cancer risk is not clear. A 2013 review did not find an increased risk from light to moderate use. A 2014 review found that smoking cannabis doubled the risk of lung cancer.
Also the Secondhand Tobacco smoker is at risk because Secondhand tobacco smoke comes from burning cigarettes or other tobacco products, or is exhaled by smokers. When you inhale secondhand smoke, you are exposed to the same cancer-causing agents as smokers, although in smaller amounts.
While in most of Europe the smoking of cigarettes and other tobacco products is banned in any public place, office, restaurant or bar you see plenty of people standing outside the building smoking and polluting the air for all the passersby.
In the West, tobacco smoke is estimated to cause about 90% of all lung cancers.
There is no reason to expect this estimate to be any different for anywhere else in the World.
Even if you are a non-smoker, do not associate with smokers and wear a face mask (filter) when going outside you may get lung cancer from a colourless, tasteless and except for special tests, undetectable gas that might be in your house. This gas is Radon, which is a naturally occurring radioactive gas found in soil. This gas decays into solid radioactive particles which can, and do, deposit themselves into your lungs. It is these tiny radioactive particles that can cause lung cancer.
Radon, like other known or suspected external risk factors for lung cancer, is a threat for smokers and former smokers. This was clearly demonstrated by the European pooling study. A commentary  to the pooling study stated: “it is not appropriate to talk simply of a risk from radon in homes. The risk is from smoking, compounded by a synergistic effect of radon for smokers. Without smoking, the effect (of Radon) seems to be so small as to be insignificant.”
According to the European pooling study, there is a difference in risk from radon between lung cancer types. Small cell lung carcinoma, which is practically only caused by smoking, has a higher risk of developing when coupled with Radon. For other lung cancer types that primarily affects non-smokers, the increased risk from Radon appears to be lower.
Other exposures of concern include asbestos, certain metals such as chromium, cadmium, arsenic, and some organic chemicals. Although the risk of lung cancer from such exposure is not as great as the risk from cigarette smoke, your risk increases more if you are a smoker and you are exposed to these agents in the workplace or elsewhere.
Drinking large amounts of alcohol is linked to an increased risk of lung cancer.
Taking beta-carotene supplements (pills) can increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers who smoke one or more packs a day. The risk is higher in smokers who also drink one or more alcoholic drinks every day.
The human body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A (retinol) – beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A. We need vitamin A for healthy skin and mucus membranes, our immune system, and good eye health and vision.
Beta-carotene in itself is not an essential nutrient, but vitamin A is.
About 2 out of 3 people diagnosed with lung cancer are older than 65. Less than 3% of all diagnoses are made in people younger than 45.
Thirty percent of people with lung cancer will die within 90 days of being diagnosed in the UK.
This strikes me as a strange fact as the implication here is that either;
- The patients doctor did not detect the lung cancer early enough to do anything, or
- The patients gave up the will to live on diagnosis.
The medical establishment tells us that Lung cancer is one of the hardest cancers to diagnose and has a poor prognosis – they regard it as a death sentence.
The outlook for patients with lung cancer is improving with the advent of new drugs. What’s more, early interventions have shown that a few relatively easy and cheap measures can improve the rates of earlier diagnosis. As with all cancers, early diagnosis is the key to successful treatment.
“This is a curable cancer if it’s caught early enough,” stressed Riyaz Shah, a consultant medical oncologist at Kent Oncology Centre, UK.
Among the barriers to early diagnosis, was the fact that the symptoms of lung cancer were often vague and unspecific. Even where patients had chest symptoms they sometimes don’t think they are dangerous. Other patients said they had been unable to get to see their usual GP or that they couldn’t get an appointment to get their symptoms checked out. Research has shown that patients who died had visited their GP an average of five times in the months before diagnosis. This seems to indicate that GP’s need more or better training, or access to better testing procedures (such as chest X-rays) to detect lung cancer earlier.
4 out of 10 of lung cancers are not detected until the patient arrives at an emergency clinic with serious breathing problems. It is at this point that the patient is in the last stages of lung cancer and has virtually no chance of survival. The fact is that chest X-rays are cheap, and the radiation is a very low dose, and the use of a chest X-ray even if there is a low-level suspicion, may very well save a life.
Lung cancer is more prevalent among lower socio-economic (poorer) groups.
There was also a problem about how to treat early cancers detected through chest X-ray screening: surgery is the preferred method for treating early cancers but the lungs are a lot less accessible to surgeons than, say, the breast.
And also, many patients found to have lung cancer might not be good candidates – because of their age or overall health profile – to withstand surgery.
However, it appears that if you know you have lung cancer early enough there is an opportunity to alter your lifestyle (stop smoking, eat cancer killing foods, stop or reduce drinking alcohol) to either kill or control the lung cancer. If you don’t know you have lung cancer then there is nothing you can do until it is too late.
Almost half of Americans live with unhealthy levels of air pollution
Report finds 148 million people living in areas where smog and soot particles are a health risk with climate change likely to worsen conditions.
With China being the most polluted country in the world, and India not far behind it, together with Eastern Europe in the same position it appears that there is likely to be a massive explosion in Lung Cancer all round the world in the next decade. The rest of the world is also suffering from worsening air quality caused by such disasters as nuclear power plant meltdowns (Fukashima), wildfires (California), deliberate forest burn offs (Amazon), vehicle exhausts, coal and waste burning, smoking and general industrial pollution in every city and town. The amount of untested chemicals and aerosols being introduced to the public every year increases this pollution load continually.
There is growing concern globally about the health risks of air pollution. The fact that smog and soot that travel across state lines and country borders kills the people next door rather than you is cold comfort – especially when the wind direction changes.
Scientific research shows that smog and soot are far more harmful at lower levels than previously thought. A growing body of research over the last decade has connected air pollution to increased deaths from heart disease and respiratory illnesses. The World Health Organisation said in 2014 that particulate pollution causes lung cancer.
Air pollution linked to higher risk of lung cancer and heart failure
Air pollution, chiefly from traffic exhaust fumes in cities, is having a serious and sometimes fatal effect on health, according to two studies that link it to lung cancer and heart failure.
Air pollution increases the risk of lung cancer even at levels lower than those recommended by the European Union, says a paper in the Lancet Oncology journal. Although smoking is a far bigger cause of lung cancer, a significant number of people will get the disease because of where they live and what they breathe.
The study, codenamed Escape, combined data from 17 cohort studies in nine European countries covering a total of almost 313,000 people. The size of the research gives it greater authority than previous work.
Air pollution comes from traffic – mostly diesel fumes – household heating and industry. In cities where people live close together, “there is no reason to believe this [risk] is restricted to people of higher or lower socio-economic status,” said an author of the study. They found a link with lung cancer even at low levels of air pollution, so the message was, he said, “the less the better and the more the worse”.
The second study published by the Lancet, shows that short-term exposure to air pollution increases the risk of being admitted to hospital with and dying of heart failure.
“Heart failure is a common, costly and fatal condition … and is one of the most frequent reasons for hospital admission,” Mills said. “While the role of air pollution is well recognised as a risk factor for heart attacks, it has been less clear whether exposure increases the risk of adverse events in patients with other cardiovascular conditions like heart failure.
“Since the entire population is exposed to air pollution, even modest reductions in air pollution could have major cardiovascular health benefits and substantial healthcare cost savings.”
Governments have acted to curb air pollution, but the study showed the problems were still real. “Most of the studies have been from the last 10 years, well after most of the major legislation to reduce air pollution. This relationship is still present, even at levels in some countries which are very low,” he said.
There is concern about pollution in the developing world, where data was not comprehensive enough to carry out studies. Air pollution in some cities in China and India may be 10 or 20 times higher than in the UK. Nobody yet knows whether the health impact will be of the same increased magnitude.
Prevention is better than the cure
It is apparent that we are all surrounded by the very thing that keeps us alive, namely air. However, it is ironical that the very thing that sustains us may contain the means of giving us Lung Cancer.
Unless we live in a filtered bubble for the rest of our lives we must take our chances out in the world and its polluted environment.
You can reduce your chances of getting Lung Cancer by;
Not Smoking Cigarettes and other Tobacco products
Not smoking marijuana
Not chewing or ingesting any tobacco products
Reduce or stop completely your alcohol intake
Having regular chest X-rays using low level radiation
Seeing your GP on a regular basis and informing him/her of any chest and breathing problems immediately. The most difficult about this is getting the Doctor to listen, understand and get some tests done (such as a chest x-ray). It doesn’t matter what the GP thinks, it is your body, not theirs – demand to get the tests done.