November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month in Canada, a time to bring awareness to the disease, risk factors, and prevention strategies. In 2020, lung cancer was responsible for over 2.2 million new cancer cases worldwide. That same year, lung cancer topped the list of most common causes of cancer death once again, with 1.8 million lives lost. These staggering statistics are more than just numbers. They represent real people who've had their lives directly changed by lung cancer and shed light on the importance of finding safe and effective strategies to prevent it.
The risk of developing lung cancer increases with age, making it crucial for older adults to stay vigilant about their respiratory health. Factors such as a history of smoking, exposure to second-hand smoke, and environmental pollutants can contribute to the development of lung cancer, underscoring the need for awareness and preventive measures.
One of the key messages during Lung Cancer Awareness Month is the emphasis on early detection. Regular screenings, especially for those with a history of smoking or other risk factors, can make a difference in outcomes. Older adults should consult with their healthcare providers to discuss personalized screening plans, as catching lung cancer in its early stages can improve the chances of successful treatment and recovery.
For those who may still be smoking, Lung Cancer Awareness Month can serve as a critical prompt to consider quitting. Tobacco use is the single most significant avoidable risk factor for death due to lung cancer, and roughly 80% of lung cancers could be prevented if smoking was eliminated. Many strategies can help you quit smoking for good and improve your overall health.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle, incorporating regular exercise, and avoiding exposure to second-hand smoke and environmental pollutants can contribute to lung health. Diet and nutrition can both contribute to your risk of developing cancers like lung cancer. For example, research has shown that those who consume red and processed meats may be at an increased risk, while those whose diet is rich in soy, fish, fruits, and vegetables may have a lower risk.
Lung Cancer Awareness Month is a powerful reminder for older adults to prioritize their respiratory health. Making a healthy lifestyle a priority is essential to reducing your risk. An understanding of risk factors and how early detection can reduce the impact of lung cancer on our older population. Let this month be a catalyst for positive change in pursuing a healthier life overall.