7 Ways Your Loved Ones Can Reduce Their Lung Cancer Risk

by Sheila M. Eldred Health Writer

Because your immediate family members may be at increased risk of developing lung cancer if you too have the disease, here are some tips to stack the odds in their favor.

Cigarette burning by itself

Don’t Smoke

It may be obvious, but it bears repeating: Smoking cigarettes is — by far — the no. 1 cause of lung cancer deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Encourage any smokers in your family to quit: If they stop before cancer starts, the damaged tissues begins to repair itself. Remind them that it’s never too late to stop.

Don’t Breathe Others’ Smoke

Secondhand smoke contains exactly the same cancer-causing chemicals that smokers inhale. And it’s especially problematic for children. Ensure that your loved ones live in smoke-free homes and drive in smoke-free cars.

Eat Your Veggies

If your family members don’t smoke, their risk of developing lung cancer is MUCH reduced. Eating a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables may reduce their risk even further. Bonus: Eating a rainbow of produce has been linked to reduced risk of other chronic diseases and high blood pressure. (Here are a few delicious ways to get started.)

Radon Monitoring System in House Basement

Test Your House for Radon

Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, but you can’t see, smell, or taste it. Because it’s not limited to mines, if you live in a higher risk geographic location, it’s important to test your home. Fortunately, it’s possible to lower radon if your home tests on the high side.

Testing water from sink

Test Your Water Too

If the water in your house comes from a well, test it for arsenic. Like radon, it’s impossible to detect without a test. Check your state health department for a list of labs that conduct tests. Treatment systems can reduce high levels.

Family playing in field.

Avoid Air Pollution

Home by a lake.

What to Keep in Mind When Buying a House

If you’re house-hunting, look for homes far away from freeways and check air quality reports. Your living situation indoors matters as much as it does outdoors, in terms of pollution exposure.

Consider Your Workplace Environment

Don’t snooze during those health and safety presentations at your workplace — exposure to asbestos and other hazards can increase the risk of lung cancer, especially if you smoke. The United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has information and standards on asbestos exposure in the workplace.

Lung x-ray

If You’re Still Concerned, There Is Something You Can Do

Still worried about your loved ones and their lung cancer risk? Let them know they can talk to their doctor about a screening program.

Sheila M. Eldred
Meet Our Writer
Sheila M. Eldred

Sheila Mulrooney Eldred is a graduate of Columbia’s School of Journalism and a former newspaper reporter. As a freelance health journalist, she writes about everything from life-threatening diseases to elite athletes. Her stories have appeared in The New York Times, Nature, FiveThirtyEight, Pacific Standard, STAT News, and other publications. In her spare time, she and her family love running, cross-country skiing, and mountain biking in Minneapolis.