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30 Ways to Lower Your Lung Cancer Risk

These healthy habits can slash your lung cancer risk in an instant.

Imagine what it would feel like if taking a single breath was a Herculean effort, or feeling like you just finished a marathon after walking only a few steps.

For many individuals with lung cancer, these experiences are all too familiar. Lung cancer is the second most commonly-diagnosed type of cancer in men and women, killing approximately 155,870 in the United States alone each year. While smoking is a contributing factor for most lung cancer patients, there are countless lifestyle choices that can also contribute to a person's risk of developing this debilitating disease.

The good news? Armed with the right information, you can reduce your risk of becoming one of lung cancer's victims. Even better, lowering your lung cancer risk is easier than you might think. Making a few easy lifestyle changes and loading up on healthy foods—some of which you may already have in your kitchen—can slash your lung cancer risk and put you on track for a longer, healthier, and happier life. Check out these 30 ways to lower your lung cancer risk, and when you're ready to enjoy better full-body health, make the 50 Foods That Slash Your Cancer Risk part of your routine!


Quit Smoking


Quit smoking today and you might just sidestep a lung cancer diagnosis in the future. According to the American Cancer Society, up to 80 percent of lung cancer is caused by smoking, so there's no time like the present to put down that pack of cigarettes. For more ways to improve your health, turn to the 30 Tips For When You're Walking For Weight Loss!


Know Your Family History

Older couple laughing

While many cases of lung cancer are lifestyle-related, there are other predisposing factors for the disease. Inherited genetic mutations can increase your risk of lung cancer and other respiratory health issues, so make sure you have an accurate accounting of your family's health history and discuss preventative screenings with your doctor if someone in your family has been diagnosed with lung cancer.


Skip the Supplements

Prescription pill bottle

If you're concerned about your lung cancer risk, you might want to give those energy supplements a pass. Research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology suggests that taking B6 and B12 supplements may increase your risk of lung cancer.


Boost Up With Beta-Carotene

Sweet potatoes

If you're a former or current smoker, it's a smart move to add beta-carotene-rich foods to your diet. Beta-carotene, an antioxidant pigment found in orange-hued foods like cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash, has been linked to decreased occurrences of lung cancer development by a study published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology.


Enjoy an Apple


An apple a day really does keep the doctor away, especially for those concerned about their lung health. A 2016 study published in the journal Cancer Medicine reveals that quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant in apples, is effective at reducing the growth of lung cancer cells. For more ways to snack your way to better health, enjoy the 30 Healthy Snacks For Better Health!


Slice Up A Red Onion

Sliced red onions

Whether it's a topping for your burger or your tacos, red onions can help you lower your lung cancer risk with every bite. That's because the ruby allium is yet another source of quercetin (60 milligrams per large onion), the same lung-cancer-fighting antioxidant found in apples.


Stop Burning Scented Candles


The next time you're trying to set the mood, stick to flameless candles instead: your lungs will thank you. Research conducted at South Carolina State University suggests that paraffin-based candles contribute to indoor air pollution, increasing your risk of developing lung cancer each time you light one.


Bring on the Bell Peppers

Bell peppers

Slashing your lung cancer risk is as simple as slicing up some bell peppers. Not only are bell peppers a good source of quercetin, they're also loaded with vitamin C, which has been linked to reductions in lung cancer risk. In fact, a review of research published in Scientific Reports reveals that every daily 100-milligram increase in vitamin C supplementation slashed lung cancer risk by seven percent.


Eat More Oranges

Orange slices

Satisfy your sweet tooth with an orange and you'll be reducing your lung cancer risk in the process. The vitamin C found in oranges is an effective cancer-preventing agent, helping you breathe easy as you age.


Skip the Wood Stove


Curling up in front of a roaring fire may be cozy, but it could also contribute to your chances of developing lung cancer. Research published in the academic journal CHEST reveals that exposure to wood smoke can significantly increase your lung cancer risk; in fact, 38.7 percent of the lung cancer patients studied had been exposed to wood smoke.


Be Picky About Pesticides


Want healthier lungs? Go organic. The volatile organic compounds in pesticides have been linked to lung cancer and other types of respiratory health issues.


Snack on Some Cherries

Bing cherries

Your lungs are only as healthy as the foods you eat. Fortunately, lowering your lung cancer risk can be pretty sweet: cherries are loaded with quercetin and vitamin C, both of which have been shown to have cancer-preventing properties. And when you're ready to fight disease throughout your body, add the 30 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods to your menu!


Check Your Soil


Avid gardeners would be wise to have their soil tested before they start planting their herbs and vegetables. Exposure to pollutants like radon and arsenic, both of which can be found in contaminated soil, has been linked to an uptick in lung cancer risk.


Grab Some Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate

Good news, chocoholics: your treat of choice could be the key to reducing your lung cancer risk. Dark chocolate contains resveratrol, an antioxidant pigment that has been linked to the death of lung cancer cells by researchers at Kochi Medical School in Japan.


Wear Protective Gear

Thyroid ultrasound

If your job puts you at risk for radiation exposure, making sure you're wearing appropriate protective gear might just keep you from developing lung cancer in the future. Pilots, nuclear power plant employees, radiology technicians, and some members of the military are exposed to radiation on a regular basis, but taking appropriate precautions can reduce your risk of a lung cancer diagnosis.


Snack on Some Cranberries


Your famous homemade cranberry sauce might just be the key to enjoying healthy lungs in your golden years. Cranberries are good sources of the dynamic cancer-fighting duo of quercetin and vitamin C, helping you stop lung cancer in its tracks.


Skip the Air Fresheners

Air freshener

They may make your home smell nice, but air fresheners simply aren't worth the risk to your respiratory health. Research from the National Institutes of Health reveals that chemicals found in many air fresheners can have a deleterious effect on lung health, and the VOCs found in many air fresheners can contribute to your lung cancer risk.


Add Some Capers


Capers aren't just good for brightening up your tuna salad; they're also are pretty amazing for your lungs. Capers contain some of the highest amounts of lung-cancer-fighting quercetin (173 milligrams per 100 grams of capers).


Use Caution When Painting

Painting room

If you're thinking of freshening up your home's décor with a little paint, make sure you're limiting your exposure to those paint fumes. Many paints pack VOCs, which have been linked to lung cancer, and spending time in a room filled with paint fumes can cause respiratory issues in the short-term, too. To limit your risk, open your windows while painting and opt for VOC-free paint whenever possible.


Have Your Water Tested

Man drinking water

Drinking an adequate amount of water is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle, but what's lurking in your water could hurt you in the long run. Radon, which has been linked to lung cancer, is a frequent contaminant in well water, so make sure you get your water source tested before you grab another glass.


Say No to Mothballs


Getting moths to stop snacking on your wardrobe doesn't have to mean putting your health at risk. Most mothballs contain naphthalene, which is considered a significant contributor to indoor VOC exposure. Fortunately, you can save your clothes and your lungs in one fell swoop: cedar, cloves, and cinnamon are all natural moth repellents.


Load Up on Legumes

Black beans

Swap out some of your preferred meat-based proteins for beans and you'll be lowering your lung cancer risk with every bite. Research published in European Respiratory Review suggests that legume consumption is associated with lower lung cancer risk, even among individuals who smoke.


Sip a Glass of Wine

Red wine

Enjoying an occasional glass of wine could be as good for your lungs as it is for your mood. Research published in Cancer Cell International reveals that red wine is effective at stopping the growth of lung cancer cells. Cancer prevention isn't the only reason to pour some pinot however; these 23 Surprising, Healthy Benefits of Alcohol will have you toasting to your health.


Get Some Fresh Air

Happy woman outside

While packing up and moving to the country might not be an option, if you want to reduce your lung cancer risk, enjoying some fresh air from time to time can help. Areas with high population density tend to have higher concentrations of VOCs in the air; in fact, Health Atlas reveals that the highest incidence of lung cancer risk in the UK occurs in its most populous areas.


Grab Some Green Tea

Green tea

Swap out that coffee for a cup of green tea and you'll be breathing easier before you know it. Researchers at Egypt's Tanta University have found green tea to be effective at fighting the growth of lung cancer cells. For more incentive to make green tea part of your routine, discover the 23 Amazing Ways to Melt Fat With Tea!


Spice Things Up

Spicy chili peppers

Keep it spicy in the kitchen and you might just say so long to those lung cancer fears. According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Pharmacopuncture, capsaicin, the compound that gives spicy peppers their heat, has a cancer-fighting effect in animals with experimentally-induced lung cancer.


Add Some Ginger

Ginger root

Whether you're enjoying it in a cup of tea or a bowl of curry, ginger is a great tool in your lung-cancer-fighting arsenal. In fact, research published in Anticancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry found that ginger actually prevents the growth of lung cancer cells.


Snack on Some Blueberries


Bring on the blueberries and reduce your lung cancer risk in an instant. In addition to their chemopreventive combo of vitamin C and quercetin, blueberries are a good source of resveratrol, which researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina have linked to the death of lung cancer cells.


Move Your Body

Running stairs

Give your lungs a fighting chance by getting active now. Not only is aerobic exercise a great way to increase your lung capacity, researchers from the City of Hope National Medical Center in California have found exercise effective at reducing lung cancer risk by as much as 50 percent.


Get Regular Check-Ups

doctor discussing treatment patient

One of the simplest ways to prevent lung cancer is by checking in regularly with your doctor. Not only can your doctor give you recommendations for how to reduce your lung cancer risk and improve your overall respiratory health, getting a yearly physical and scheduling medical appointments when something seems amiss can also help you catch cancer while it's still treatable. And when you're ready to live healthier, add the 30 Healthy Habits to Start by Your 30s to your routine!

Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more about Sarah