Nonsmokers More At Risk

By: Philip Nicosia

Health conscious people often frown at the sight of smokers. This is because we have this notion that those puffing cigarettes many times each day are prone to getting cancer of the lungs. But did you know that lung cancer is not to be totally blamed on smoking cigarettes like what many of us believe? Surprisingly, it is the nonsmokers who are more at risk of getting the disease.

A new study has found that people who do not smoke can get lung cancer, too. The study, published in the February 10 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, revealed that people who never smoked can get the disease with women more at risk than men. Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Northern California Cancer Center collected data from the United States and Sweden that monitored cases of lung cancer in more than one million people aged 40 to 79. They then calculated the incidence rates based on new cases per person per year. The researchers found that the incidence rate of lung cancer in women non-smokers ranged from 14.4. to 20.8 cases per 100,000 person-years.

Lead researchers, however, say that many factors can lead to this disease among people who never smoke. Exposure of women to secondhand smoke may be partly blamed for their higher risk compared to men. Co-author Ellen Chang, ScD, an epidemiologist at the Northern California Cancer Center, said secondhand smoke does increase the chance of getting lung cancer so the cases that we observe can be attributed to that. Meanwhile, lead author Heather Wakelee, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University, also said that although some environment pollutants such as asbestos, chromium, arsenic and radon may cause the disease in non-smokers, they have not been proven. When more concrete factors are eventually known, she said doctors will be able to understand more how cancer works allowing them to find new treatment.

Each year, over 180,000 Americans are diagnosed with lung cancer. The disease actually causes more deaths than other types of cancer like breast, colon and prostate. The researchers are hoping that their study will raise public awareness and help ease the stigma among non-smoking patients.

So if you want to avoid cancer of any type, whatís the best thing to do? Very simple Ė just eat the right healthy foods, get some exercise and stop smoking. In other words, changes in behavior and lifestyle are very crucial. Medical experts say donít do it later, next week or next month but right now.

Be cautious of what you eat and drink. Eating lots of fruits and veggies will surely lower your chances of getting colon, mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach and lung cancers. Avoid frequent consumption of red meat as much as possible as it can lead to colon cancer. Experts also recommended taking a multivitamin that has folate, a B vitamin, every day. As for drinks, wine and other alcoholic beverages should be taken in moderation as overconsumption leads to a higher risk of getting oral, esophageal, breast and other cancers.

Donít forget to stay active, too. Being overweight and physically inactive have been blamed for 20 to 30 percent of the most common cancers in the U.S. But losing weight, especially for women in their adult years, and increasing physical activity can make you less prone to getting the disease. Physical activity has also been found to have an impact on the recurrence of a cancer or survival of a patient diagnosed with breast cancer.

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