There may be several ways to reduce your risk of developing lung cancer.
Tobacco use is the major cause of lung cancer in the United States.1 2 About 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80% of lung cancer deaths in women in this country are due to smoking. The most important thing a person can do to prevent lung cancer is to not start smoking, or to quit if he or she currently smokes.
Quitting smoking will lower risk of lung cancer compared to not quitting.1 2 3 4 This is true no matter how old a person is. The longer a person goes without smoking, the more his or her risk will improve compared to those who continue to smoke. However, the risk in people who have quit is still higher than the risk in people who have never smoked. For tips on quitting, visit smokefree.gov.
CDC helps support a national network of quitlines that makes free "quit smoking" support available by telephone to smokers anywhere in the United States. The toll-free number is 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669); TTY 1-800-332-8615.
For smokers, avoiding other things that increase risk for lung cancer may help lower risk, but not as much as quitting smoking.
Avoid Secondhand Smoke
Make Your Home and Workplace Safer
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that all homes be tested for radon. Radon detectors can be purchased or arrangements can be made for qualified testers to come into the home. Some states offer free or low-cost radon test kits. Visit EPA's radon Web site for more information about radon and radon testing in your area.6
Health and safety guidelines in the workplace can help workers avoid things that can cause cancer (carcinogens). Visit the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for more information.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Scientists are studying many different foods and dietary supplements to see if they can prevent lung cancer. There is much we still need to know. We do know that fruits and carotenoid-rich foods probably protect against lung cancer.7 For more information, visit Fruits & Veggies - More Matters.
1U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General (2004).
2International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans and their Supplements: A complete list. Tobacco Smoking and Tobacco Smoke Volume 83 [PDF-48KB] (2002).
3U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General (1990).
4International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention Vol. 11. Tobacco Control: Reversal of Risk after Quitting Smoking. Lyon: International Agency for Research on Cancer (2007).
5U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General (2006).
6U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A Citizen's Guide to Radon (2009).
7World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. Washington, DC: American Institute for Cancer Research (2007).
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