Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention


Can Lung Cancer Be Prevented?

Not all lung cancers can be prevented. But there are things you can do that might lower your risk, such as changing the risk factors that you can control.

Stay away from tobacco

The best way to reduce your risk of lung cancer is not to smoke and to avoid breathing in other people’s smoke.

If you stop smoking before a cancer develops, your damaged lung tissue gradually starts to repair itself. No matter what your age or how long you’ve smoked, quitting may lower your risk of lung cancer and help you live longer. If you would like help quitting smoking, see How to Quit Smoking or Smokeless Tobacco or call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.

Avoid radon exposure

Radon is an important cause of lung cancer. You can reduce your exposure to radon by having your home tested and treated, if needed. For more information, see Radon and Cancer.

Avoid or limit exposure to cancer-causing agents

Avoiding exposure to known cancer-causing agents, in the workplace and elsewhere, may also be helpful (see Lung Cancer Risk Factors). When people work where these exposures are common, they should be kept to a minimum.

Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables may also help reduce your risk of lung cancer. Some evidence suggests that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may help protect both smokers and non-smokers against lung cancer. But any positive effect of fruits and vegetables on lung cancer risk would be much less than the increased risk from smoking.

Trying to reduce the risk of lung cancer in current or former smokers by giving them high doses of vitamins or vitamin-like drugs has not been successful so far. In fact, some studies have found that supplements of beta-carotene, a nutrient related to vitamin A, appear to increase the rate of lung cancer in these people.

Some people who get lung cancer do not have any clear risk factors. Although we know how to prevent most lung cancers, at this time we don’t know how to prevent all of them.