[Guest blog] Five ways to reduce your risk of lung cancer

Head of Marketing at the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
23 November 2017

Each time you breathe, your lungs work hard to deliver oxygen around your body. It’s well-known that smoking can damage these important organs. But did you know that one in every seven people diagnosed with lung cancer each year have never smoked? November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. So to promote good lung health to everyone, we’re sharing five things you can do to help keep your lungs healthy.

Image of doctor looking at a lung scan.

What causes lung cancer?

The number one cause of lung cancer is smoking. But other less common causes include:

  • passive smoking (breathing in someone else’s smoke)
  • being exposed to chemicals like asbestos, radon gas or diesel exhaust fumes
  • having a poor diet
  • not doing enough exercise

How can I reduce my risk of developing lung cancer?

To help reduce your risk of developing lung cancer, try these five steps:

1. Stop smoking

If you’re a smoker, the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of lung cancer is to stop smoking. The sooner you can quit smoking, the better for your lung health.

2. Avoid second-hand smoke

Even if you’re not a smoker, breathing in second-hand smoke can increase your risk of developing lung cancer. So try to stay away from other people who are smoking.

3. Exercise regularly

Taking part in regular exercise has a whole host of benefits your physical and mental health, including being good for your lungs. So make sure you move your body regularly. The Department of Health recommends that you do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week, or a combination of the two. This can be anything from walking to running, swimming to household chores.

4. Eat a healthy diet

Some research has found that eating a healthy diet can help to reduce your risk of lung cancer. Try to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and reduce your intake of fat, sugar and salt where possible.

5. Reduce your alcohol intake

Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of developing many types of cancer – and all types of alcohol count. In the UK, it’s recommended that both men and women drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week and that these should be spread out across the week. That’s roughly six pints of beer or cider, six glasses of wine or 14 single shots of spirit. So try to keep your alcohol intake to a minimum.

What are the symptoms of lung cancer?

The most common symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • a cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse
  • feeling short of breath for no reason
  • blood in your spit
  • pain in your chest or shoulder
  • getting chest infections
  • coughing up blood
  • a hoarseness in your voice
  • feeling tired for no reason
  • losing weight for no reason

When should I seek help?

If you’re concerned about the health of your lungs, make an appointment to see your GP as soon as possible. It’s important to find and treat any problems as early as possible. Your GP will examine your chest and be able to put your mind at ease or refer you for more tests.

Infographic showing the symptoms and risk factors of lung cancer.

The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is the only UK charity dedicated solely to beating the UK’s biggest cancer killer. The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation has invested many millions of pounds into research into the early detection of lung cancer, played a major role in the introduction of the ban on smoking in public places and has supported thousands of people living with lung cancer. Initially known as the Lung Cancer Fund, the charity was renamed five years later after the death of TV presenter and entertainer Roy Castle, who raised over £1million to support the fund in the last year of his life.

Rachel Avery
Head of Marketing at the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation

What would you like us to write about?


Bupa health insurance

Heart icon

Bupa health insurance aims to provide you with the specialist care and support you need, as quickly as possible. Find out how you could benefit.