October is National Healthy Lung Month, with Lung Health Day observed on October 26. The goal of this observance is to raise awareness about lung disease, the incidence of which is steadily on the rise in the U.S. Consider that approximately 10 million adults are diagnosed with chronic bronchitis each year, and about 4.7 million others will be diagnosed with emphysema at some point during their lives. Additionally, more than 25 million people are living with asthma. Occupational lung diseases, such as mesothelioma and asbestosis, also affect many Americans. Finally, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths across the nation.
Of course, most people are aware that the majority of lung cancers are directly linked to smoking. That’s because cigarette smoke is full of cancer-causing substances (carcinogens), which damage the cells of the lungs. The body can heal some of this scarring and inflammation, but as the amount of damage increases over time, the body becomes less able to heal itself, and the cells may undergo abnormal changes that cause them to become cancerous. However, exposure to other lung irritants, such as asbestos and radon, can also lead to the development of lung cancer.
Many people mistakenly believe that the only air pollutants that cause lung disease exist outdoors. However, some pollutants inside homes are actually more harmful than those commonly found outdoors. For instance, your home may harbor many chemical sources of respiratory irritation, such as cleaning product vapors, fire-retardants, lead, formaldehyde and radon. Natural pollutants can also be problematic, and some that may be making their way into your home include dust mites, pet dander and mold.
Here are a few simple ways to reduce the amount of lung irritants in your home:
- Clean the air – Use a vacuum that has a HEPA filter, which can reduce the amount of chemical build-up and allergens in your home. To help remove any particles that remain after you vacuum, follow up with a microfiber mop.
- Green your space – Indoor plants can help purify the air within your home by removing toxins, such as formaldehyde, benzene, toluene and xylene.
- Go natural – Choose fragrance-free products whenever possible; the fragrances that are unnecessarily added to many cleaning products, laundry detergents and air fresheners can potentially damage your lungs.
- Test for radon – Make sure that your home has a radon detector. This odorless, colorless gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. today.
Moffitt Cancer Center is committed to helping patients maximize their pulmonary health. We are positioned firmly at the forefront of lung cancer research and treatment, and we offer a comprehensive range of advanced surgical techniques, chemotherapy drugs and radiation delivery methods, along with a robust portfolio of clinical trials. At Moffitt, each patient receives a highly individualized treatment plan, with therapies administered by oncologists who specialize in treating lung cancer.
No referral is required to make an appointment with Moffitt’s lung cancer treatment team. Contact us by calling 1-888-MOFFITT or completing our new patient registration form online.