How to prevent lung disease
By Anne Harding
If you take good care of your lungs, they can last a
lifetime. “The lungs are very durable if they’re not
attacked from the outside,” says Norman H.
Edelman, MD, chief medical officer of the American
Lung Association (ALA). With a few exceptions,
your lungs don’t get into trouble unless you get
them into trouble, he says.
However, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
(COPD) is the fourth-leading cause of death in the
U.S. after heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Here
are 12 things you can do to keep your lungs
healthy as you age.
Smoking is, hands down, the worst thing you can
do to your lungs on a regular basis.
There’s no safe threshold when it comes to
smoking, Dr. Edelman says; the more you smoke,
the greater your risk of lung cancer and COPD,
which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Secondhand smoke is harmful, too, and there’s
mounting evidence that even thirdhand smoke—or
just being in an environment where people have
It’s not enough to skip only cigarettes. Pipes,
cigars, or marijuana can harm lungs too.
Fight for clean air
While U.S. air is cleaner than in the past, more
than 154 million Americans still live in areas where
air pollution is a threat to health, according to the
ALA’s annual State of the Air report.
"Air pollution can not only make diseases like
COPD and asthma worse, [but] it can also kill
people," Dr. Edelman says. You can make a
difference by supporting clean air laws and
opposing efforts to cut regulation.
On the individual level, cut your electricity use,
drive less, and avoid burning wood or trash.
Exercise in itself won’t make your lungs stronger,
Dr. Edelman says, but it will help you get more out
The better your cardiorespiratory fitness, the
easier it is for your lungs to keep your heart and
muscles supplied with oxygen. Regular exercise is
particularly important if you have chronic lung
disease; your lungs need all the help they can get.
If cold air triggers your asthma symptoms, use a
scarf or face mask to warm the air before it hits
Beware of outdoor air pollution
In some areas, especially in the summer, ozone
and other pollutants can make working out or even
spending time outdoors an unhealthy proposition.
People with a lung disease are particularly
sensitive to air pollution. The U.S. government’s
AIRNow web site , provides up-to-date information
on air quality, as well as an explanation of Air
Quality Index (AQI) numbers.
Improve indoor air
Air pollution isn’t just an outdoor problem. There
are a number of indoor sources, including
fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, mold, pet
dander, construction materials, and even air
fresheners and some candles.
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends
a three-pronged approach: Eliminate sources,
improve ventilation, and use air cleaners .
Air cleaners remove particulate matter, but won’t
impact gases. For more info, check the EPA’s
Indoor Air Quality website.
There is evidence that antioxidant-rich foods are
good for your lungs. (Research suggests it has to
be food, not supplements.)
A 2010 study found that people who consumed the
most cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower,
cabbage, bok choy, kale, and more) had almost
half the risk of lung cancer compared to those who
consumed the least.
"All those nice, leafy green vegetables that have
lots of antioxidants do seem to have a protective
effect," says Dr. Edelman.
Protect yourself on the job
Many jobs can put your lungs at risk, from
construction work to styling hair. (Here are some
of the worst jobs for your lungs .)
In fact, occupational asthma accounts for
approximately 15% of cases, says Dr. Edelman.
Potential culprits include dust; particles; diacetyl, a
chemical that adds a buttery flavor to food; paint
fumes; and diesel exhaust, among others. If your
employer provides protective equipment, wear it. If
not, Dr. Edelman says, contact your union
representative, the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration, or any state or local agency with
the same function as OSHA.
Don’t skimp on shots
Respiratory infections can be particularly
devastating if you have COPD or other lung
problems. Get the flu shot in time for flu season,
and if you’re 65 or older, get the pneumococcal
Also, take steps to avoid infection: Wash your
hands frequently, avoid crowds during peak flu
season, get plenty of rest, eat well, and keep your
stress levels under control, too.
Stick to safe products
Many at-home activities—cleaning, hobbies, home
improvement—can expose your lungs to harmful
particles or gases.
Protect yourself by choosing safer products,
working in a well-ventilated area, and using a dust
mask. (The ALA offers tips for working with
Avoid oil-based paints, which release volatile
organic compounds (VOCs), and choose water-
based paint instead. Cleaning products can contain
harmful chemicals too, like VOCs, ammonia, and
bleach; read labels before you buy. (The ALA
provides suggestions for safer cleaning products.)
Check for radon
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas
produced by the breakdown of uranium in the
ground. It typically leaks into a house through
cracks in the foundation and walls. Radon is the
main cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, and the
second-leading cause of the disease after
Get your home tested; if radon levels are between
2 and 4 pCi/L, consider radon reduction . There are
no known safe levels of radon, so the lower, the
Know the warning signs
If you have a cough for more than a month, or if
you have a hard time breathing with little or no
physical exertion, you should see a doctor,
according to the ALA.
Wheezing, coughing up blood, or coughing up
phlegm for more than a month are also
problematic, and if you have chest pain lasting a
month or longer, get it checked out, particularly if
breathing in or coughing makes it worse.
Control your condition
If you’ve got asthma or COPD, do your best to
keep it under control.
Preventive medications, such as inhaled
corticosteroids, can cut your risk of asthma
attacks, and rescue medications, such as albuterol
inhalers, can stop symptoms like coughing or
wheezing. Other medications can control COPD .
Know your triggers, and avoid them, if possible.
Also do your best to stave off respiratory
infections, which can exacerbate both conditions.
Friday, 28 November 2014
How to prevent lung disease/cancer
How to prevent lung disease