Monday, November 5, 2012

Lung Cancer Today

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. In 2008 (the most current year these numbers are available), 2,625 Arkansans were diagnosed with lung cancer, and 2,126 died of the disease. In 2012, the American Cancer Society estimates that over 217,000 men and women in the United States will be diagnosed with the disease. Lung cancer accounts for more deaths than ANY OTHER CANCER in both men and women.

Cigarette smoking is the most common risk factor associated with lung cancer. Men and women who smoke are 23 and 13 times more likely, respectively, to die of lung cancer than men and women who do not smoke. There are other risks, including environmental exposure to secondhand smoke, radon gas, asbestos, certain metals, a history of tuberculosis, and a family history of lung cancer. At times, people are diagnosed with lung cancer with no obvious risk factors at all.

Some might ask why a person who has smoked for years should bother to stop, given that damage has already been done. Because stopping makes a difference! Consider a recent report on a long-term study done in the U.K. that shows that women who quit smoking add at least 10 years to their lives. No matter when it happens, stopping smoking is always the right choice.

Earlier this year the FDA reported that new warning labels like these would be implemented* on cigarette packages to educate people about the dangers of smoking. Some might argue that these dangers have been made clear for years, and that it's fine to leave the personal health of individuals up to those individuals. But unfortunately, the people who live with that person who decided to smoke - often including children - are also at risk. A study reported in May showed that children who are exposed to second-hand smoke do not just suffer from respiratory health challenges in their youth, but that the problems - including chronic cough, wheezing, and asthma - lasted into adulthood even if the child never smoked themselves.

The bottom line is, lung cancer is still much too common in our country, and there is still only one major factor in the diagnosis - tobacco smoke. Make the right choice for you and your loved-ones. Stop smoking, and keep living.

*The implementation date is uncertain, due to ongoing proceedings in the case of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, No. 11-1482 (D.D.C.), on appeal, No. 11-5332 (D.C. Cir.).

We hope you'll join us this year for our annual Shine-A-Light on Lung Cancer Vigil scheduled for November 15th at our office. It's a lovely evening of remembering, honoring, and educating. Click on the invitation below to register online.

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