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There’s no surefire way to completely protect yourself from developing cancer. However, there are many steps you can take and choices you can make in your daily life to reduce your risk of lung cancer.

Quitting tobacco, or not smoking in the first place, is one of the best ways to reduce your cancer risk and improve your overall health. But there are also other factors that may play a role in lung cancer prevention.

This article will explore 10 steps you can take to help lower your lung cancer risk. Let’s look at each one in more detail.

At the start of the 20th century, lung cancer was a fairly rare disease. Its dramatic rise is largely due to the increase in smoking rates among people in the United States. In fact, it’s estimated that around 90 percent of lung cancers today can be linked to smoking or tobacco smoke.

If you’re a woman, smoking increases your risk of developing lung cancer by 25.7 times; if you’re a man, it’s 25 times.

Quitting smoking is one of the best ways to prevent lung cancer. According to research, quitting smoking may lower your risk of lung cancer by 30 to 50 percent after 10 years compared to people who don’t quit.

If you smoke, talk to your doctor about the best way to quit. It may take some time to find what works for you, but quitting smoking will help improve your overall health in many ways.

Secondhand smoke is smoke from other people’s cigarettes or cigars, as well as the smoke that they exhale.

When you inhale secondhand smoke, you’re breathing in a lot of the chemicals from cigarettes. There are about 70 chemicals in secondhand smoke that are known to cause cancer and hundreds more that are toxic. Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can be harmful.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), secondhand smoke is responsible for more than 7,300 deaths from lung cancer each year among people who do not smoke.

Although laws have reduced exposure to secondhand smoke in public, it’s important to avoid breathing in secondhand smoke at home and at work as much as possible.

Radon is a radioactive gas that you can’t see or smell, but it’s the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, and it’s the top cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers.

Radon is a radioactive gas that’s released when uranium in rocks and soil breaks down. It can seep into the water and air supply, and enter your home through cracks in the floors, walls, or foundation. It can build up in your home over time.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nearly 1 in every 15 homes in the United States is estimated to have elevated levels of radon.

You may want to have your home tested for radon. You can get a home testing kit or call a specialist who can test your home for this gas. If you find high levels of radon in your home, a specialist can provide solutions on how to reduce the levels.

If an immediate family member (e.g., a parent or sibling) has had lung cancer, you can be up to twice as likely as people without a family history to develop lung cancer. Both genetic and environmental factors contribute to this increased risk.

If people in your immediate family, either smokers or nonsmokers, develop lung cancer, make sure you share this information with your doctor. They may recommend certain screenings to help reduce your risk.

Exposure to certain chemicals can raise your risk of lung cancer. These include:

  • asbestos
  • arsenic
  • nickel
  • soot
  • cadmium
  • silica
  • diesel exhaust

Your risk increases with your level of exposure.

Workplaces are where you’re most likely to be exposed to these chemicals. If these substances are in your workplace, try to take steps to protect yourself by wearing protective gear and limiting your exposure.

HIV is linked to a higher risk of lung cancer. In fact, research shows that it may double your risk of developing lung cancer.

An increased risk of lung cancer may be due to a variety of factors, including the following:

  • Smoking rates are higher among people with HIV.
  • HIV causes a higher amount of inflammation throughout the body.
  • The HIV illness has immunosuppressive effects.

To reduce your risk of HIV, it’s important to always use a condom when having sex. You should also consider getting tested regularly, especially if you have sex without a barrier method or use intravenous drugs.

High-energy radiation, such as X-rays, gamma rays, and other types of radioactive waves, can damage your DNA and increase your risk of cancer.

Certain medical procedures can cause cell damage in your lungs that may lead to cancer. This includes procedures such as:

The risk of cancer from these procedures is low, and the benefits typically outweigh the risks. However, you may want to talk to your doctor about whether there are safer options, especially if you have other risk factors for lung cancer.

Studies show that physical activity may reduce lung cancer risk by as much as 20 to 30 percent for women and 20 to 50 percent for men. The more you exercise, the more it seems to lower your risk.

Experts aren’t exactly sure what the relationship between lung cancer and exercise is, but possible factors may include:

  • increased lung function
  • improved immune function
  • reduced inflammation
  • reduced levels of carcinogens in the lungs
  • improved ability to repair DNA

The research is still not completely clear on how physical activity lowers your risk. This is complicated by the fact that smokers tend to have lower physical activity rates than nonsmokers.

Your diet also plays an important role in cancer prevention. To lower your cancer risk, eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.

There are also specific foods that research suggests might help prevent lung cancer, including:

If you’re at a higher risk of lung cancer due to your smoking history and age, regular lung cancer screening may be right for you. Screening can help detect lung cancer early, when it may be easier to treat.

However, screening is only recommended for people at a high risk of lung cancer. If you think you may be a candidate for screening, talk to your doctor to learn more.

You may have also heard of other ways to lower your risk of lung cancer. Some of these methods won’t work, and some may even have a negative effect on your health.

Examples of things that won’t protect you from lung cancer include:

  • Beta carotene supplements: Beta carotene is a substance found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, and leafy greens. Your body uses it to make vitamin A. Taking beta carotene supplements won’t reduce your risk of lung cancer, and may even be harmful to heavy smokers.
  • Vitamin E supplements: Vitamin E helps boost your immune system and helps your blood clot. However, there’s no evidence it has any effect on your risk of lung cancer.
  • Antioxidants: Mice studies show that antioxidant supplements may actually cause tumors to grow and spread. If you have a higher risk of lung cancer, it might be best to avoid antioxidant supplements.

There’s a lot you can do to help lower your risk of lung cancer. Many of these prevention methods, like quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet, can improve your overall health in many ways.

If you’re worried about your risk of lung cancer and what you can do to help prevent it, talk with your doctor. They may suggest screenings or other options to help lower your risk.