Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer is one of the major causes of death for the over 60s in the US and the UK. Cigarette smoking is well-known as the main cause, but is there more to it?

According to Cancer Research UK:
A person’s risk of developing cancer depends on many factors, including age, genetics, and exposure to risk factors (including some potentially avoidable lifestyle factors).
1 in 13 UK males and 1 in 15 UK females will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime.
79% of lung cancer cases in the UK are preventable.
72% of lung cancer cases in the UK are caused by smoking.
5% of lung cancer cases in the UK are caused by ionising radiation.
13% of lung cancer cases in the UK are caused by workplace exposures.
8% of lung cancer cases in the UK are caused by air pollution.


The American Cancer Society says that “not all lung cancers can be prevented. But there are things you can do that might lower your risk, such as changing the risk factors that you can control.”
For older or retired people these include
Stay away from tobacco.
Avoid radon exposure.
Eat a healthy diet.

In the book “How Not to Die”, Doctor Greger says that lung cancer is primarily caused by smoking, but it also can arise from fumes from frying, so make sure you have good ventilation. Frying meat and fish is worse than vegetables for the chemicals generated. Processed meat like bacon is even worse.

So, the overall message is that if you smoke, you must stop, so as to eliminate the majority of risk. You should also avoid situations where you’d breathe in third-party smoke from others, which can be just as bad long-term.

One thing not mentioned in most sources is vaping. Potentially it can create its own issues for the lung, in place of those from the burning tars in cigarettes. However, it’s too early to have statistics on this, and complicated by the range of chemicals and flavourings being vaporised. So, it’s safer for now to avoid vaping also as a potential risk.

To reduce your risk further, focus on a healthy diet (with plenty of fruit and veg), and avoid breathing in the carcinogenic fumes from frying or barbecuing meat.

Radon exposure is a tricky one, as most people would not be aware that they had a problem. The safe approach is that if your area is known for high radon levels, then it’s probably worth having a survey of your property at least once, for reassurance.

Link to my post on “How Not to Die

Link to my post on “Cancer

Leave a Comment