TREASURE COAST ― November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, a time when many health advocates and organizations urge people to quit smoking and vaping.
According to the American Cancer Society, smoking tobacco is by far the leading cause of lung cancer. About 80% of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking, and many others are caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 90% of lung cancers are caused by smoking tobacco.
The Centers for Disease Control says that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the United States. Each year, about 221,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with lung cancer, and about 146,000 people die from the disease. Lung cancer kills more people than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer combined.
The American Lung Association says that when exposure to secondhand smoke is also considered, tobacco use leads to 480,000 U.S. deaths every year, making it the leading cause of preventable death in the country.
As COVID-19 cases surge, doctors warn that lung cancer patients are especially vulnerable, as it is one of the comorbidities that worsens COVID-19 infections.
To understand why tobacco smoking leads to so many more deaths and cases of lung cancer each year than smoking other substances, such as marijuana, scientists say to look at the chemicals in tobacco.
The American Lung Association says that arsenic, lead, and tar are just a few of more than 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke. At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, including acetone, ammonia, benzene, butane, cadmium, formaldehyde, naphthalene, and methanol.
The CDC says that most people with lung cancer don’t have symptoms until the cancer is advanced. By the time one discovers she or he has lung cancer, it is often too late to stop the disease.
So the CDC and others say that the key, whether or not you have any symptoms of lung cancer, is to stop smoking now, and to convince others, especially teens, not to start. The American Lung Association says that 95% of smokers try their first cigarette before the age of 21, and they warn that vaping is now reaching epidemic levels.
During Lung Cancer Awareness Month, supporters are urged to wear the white Lung Cancer Awareness ribbon. Share a photo of you wearing the white ribbon on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and use the hashtags #lcam, #livingwithlungcancer, and #lungcancerresearch.
For help quitting, visit www.smokefree.gov, call 1 (800) QUIT-NOW (784-8669), or text QUIT to 47848.
For employers who wish to help employees quit, The American Lung Association offer several programs for businesses. Contact the ALA at 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or WorkplaceWellness@Lung.org.
The ALA has a quit smoking program especially for teens ages 14-19. Over the 10-week program, participants learn to identify their reasons for smoking, healthy alternatives to tobacco use, and people who will support them in their efforts to quit. For more information, visit www.lung.org/quit-smoking/helping-teens-quit.
The ALA also has a youth vaping awareness campaign to teach teens about the dangers of vaping. For more information, visit www.TalkAboutVaping.org.