Lung cancer - non-small cell; NSCLC
Quitting smoking improves lung function almost immediately. Some evidence suggests that the benefits for the lungs are even more significant for women who quit than for men. However, it can take 20 years or longer, particularly in heavy smokers, for the lungs to be restored to full health and the risk for lung cancer to be reduced as low as it is for nonsmokers. Quitting is extremely difficult. No one should be discouraged if they relapse. Everyone should keep trying to quit. With continued efforts, many people succeed.
At this time perhaps the most effective method for quitting is a combination of the following:
[For more information, see In-Depth Report #41: Smoking.]
While people are in the process of quitting (and afterwards), they should maintain as healthy a lifestyle as possible.
The research on diet and cancer suggests that antioxidants in certain foods may protect against the DNA damage that can lead cells to turn cancerous. It's important to note that, although studies have suggested an association between these factors and cancer risk, no cause-and-effect has been proven. Also, the overwhelming association of smoking with lung cancer makes it more difficult to exclude these and other factors. Still, it is always a good idea to eat a generally healthy diet.
Phytochemicals. Some data suggest that diets rich in fresh fruits and vegetables may protect against lung cancer in both smokers and nonsmokers. Those most studied in relationship to protection from lung cancer include phytoestrogens, flavonoids, and glucosinoids.
Note: Studies on these chemicals are not consistent. It is unlikely that individual phytochemicals offer protection, but rather that any benefit comes from a collection of vitamins and plant chemicals contained in fruits and vegetables. Fruit, especially, appears to be protective.
Fats and Oils. Some studies have indicated that diets high in animal fats increase the risk for lung cancer. Others have suggested some protection against lung cancer comes from cod liver oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish), omega-6 fatty acids (found in flax and in soybean and canola oils), and monounsaturated oils (found in olive and canola oils). However, the ability of these substances to protect against lung cancer remains controversial, and quitting smoking remains the best advice.
Vitamin Supplements. Even in those who eat a healthful diet, smoking reduces the levels of a number of vitamins, importantly vitamin C. There is not enough evidence, however, to support any benefit from taking antioxidant supplements, including vitamins C, E, A, folate, or beta carotene.
In fact, evidence is now suggesting that high doses of vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene supplements may have harmful effects. The strongest studies to date on the negative effects of antioxidant supplements have reported an increase in lung cancer and overall mortality rates among smokers who took beta carotene or vitamin E supplements. This is particularly important information for smokers, who may carry precancerous or cancerous cells for years before developing the disease. The best way to get healthy levels of important nutrients is by eating healthy foods.
Trace Element Supplements. Trace elements such as zinc and selenium have been studied for potential protection against lung cancer without any clear evidence to support their benefits.
People concerned about radon in their home or area can purchase a test approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. One way to remove radon is by installing a soil suction system. It should be noted, however, that home prevention measures rarely reduce radon levels to zero. Simply sleeping by an open window reduces the risk.
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