As much as I wish I could say otherwise, the inspiration for today’s blog comes from two people who are very dear to me.
One who smoked for the better part of 50 years or more, and one who was successfully treated for breast cancer, only to learn that it had metastasized to her lungs.
And watching both of them—one on oxygen 24/7 and the other undergoing lung cancer treatment—I have been starkly reminded how so many of us take our lungs for granted.
Think about it—you’re sitting there breathing right now (or so I would presume) while you’re reading my words and not even thinking about it, are you?
But that would change pretty quickly if breathing suddenly became a challenge (or nearly impossible) for you!
Let’s talk about two of the most common lung diseases—lung cancer and COPD—and how you can help preserve the health of your precious lungs for many years to come!
Lung cancer—sneaky and deadly
Although prostate cancer is the number one form of cancer that strikes men, and for women it’s breast cancer, lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer death among both men and women.
Each year more people die of lung cancer than of breast, colon and prostate cancers combined.
The primary symptoms of lung cancer include a persistent cough, shortness of breath, recurrent bronchitis or pneumonia, hoarseness, weight loss and coughing up blood.
Unfortunately, when some of these symptoms first appear, they may be brushed off as allergies, or antibiotics may be taken for what is thought to be just bronchitis…so that gives the disease an opportunity to progress.
What makes this worse is many times symptoms don’t appear until the disease is already approaching an advanced stage and the chance of recovery is dramatically reduced.
It’s not limited to smokers!
While smokers do have a 20-25 times greater risk of developing lung cancer than non-smokers, not all lung cancers are caused by smoking.
Another risk factor is radon exposure. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, and the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.
Exposure to other substances including asbestos, or inhaled chemicals such as arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, silica, vinyl chloride, nickel compounds, chromium compounds, coal products, mustard gas, chloromethyl ethers and diesel exhaust can also raise your risk.
Plus as I mentioned above, cancers from other areas (especially the breasts) can metastasize to the lungs.
And remember that even if you don’t smoke, if you live with a smoker, that raises your risk too. Studies show second-hand smoke accounts for as many as 25 percent of lung cancer cases in non-smokers.
COPD—struggling to breathe
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the umbrella term used to describe two serious lung conditions—emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Similar to lung cancer, many symptoms of COPD don’t appear until significant lung damage has already occurred, which greatly worsens your prognosis.
The main symptoms of chronic bronchitis are a daily cough and sputum (mucus) production.
Emphysema symptoms can include shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing, chest tightness, frequent URIs, fatigue, high mucus or phlegm production and frequent throat clearing. As the disease progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to breathe.
Smoking is guilty again!
According to the CDC, smoking accounts for as many as eight out of 10 COPD-related deaths.
But as many as 25 percent of Americans with COPD have never smoked cigarettes! Other significant risk factors include occupational exposure to dust and chemicals, a history of asthma, and exposure to second-hand smoke.
Take care of yours!
Just like many of our other body systems and processes, our lung function declines with age—it peaks at around age 30, then starts a downward trend after that.
But that doesn’t mean you should just bite your nails and hope your number doesn’t come up in the lung disease lottery!
Because there is a whole lot you can do to preserve the health of your lungs and support strong lung function into your golden years.
Here are some of the best lung-loving measures you can take:
I know this seems obvious, but there are currently about 31 million adult smokers in the US, so clearly not everyone’s gotten the memo.
If you smoke, remember it’s not only your health you’re destroying—the people around you that are breathing in your smoke are suffering as well.
Get help if you need it and don’t give up. Most smokers report having to quit more than once before they finally kicked the habit for good. Acupuncture can help curb your cravings and it’s far safer than Chantix.
And don’t make the mistake of thinking vaping is a viable alternative because you couldn’t be more wrong. All you are doing is trading one lung-wrecking poison for another.
Beef up your immune system function
Your immune system actively protects you against cancer (and other diseases)! Your immune cells detect cancer cells, then they surround and engulf the cells before they have a chance to form a tumor.
So truly, having a strong, sharp immune system is vital to help prevent cancer and many other diseases.
When it comes to strong immune function, two of your best bets are probiotics and vitamin D.
A full-spectrum, multi-strain probiotic formula like Super Shield can help repopulate your gut microbiome and bring it into a healthier balance. This is crucial, because nearly 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gut, and if your intestinal environment is overrun with harmful microbes and yeasts, it will definitely weaken your immune function!
Vitamin D helps to tame inflammatory immune responses, such as those seen with allergies, asthma and autoimmune conditions, it’s been shown to protect lung health, and it’s also emerging as a superstar in helping lungs heal from COVID.
Unfortunately, many of us are grossly deficient in this vital nutrient because food sources are limited, and we shun the sun and/or slather on sunscreen when we are exposed to sunlight.
That’s why supplementation with a top-notch product like Optimum DK Formula with FruiteX-B is so important!
Optimum DK Formula provides an immune-supportive 5,000 IU dose of vitamin D3 in every capsule, plus vitamins K1 and K2 and the mineral boron.
Eat your fruits and vegetables
Studies have shown that low fiber intake is associated with reduced lung function, and on the flip side, a diet that provides lots of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables can improve lung health.
In addition, the flavonoids found in fruits and vegetables have been shown to improve COPD symptoms and help slow the gradual decline in lung function associated with aging!
So do lots of your grocery shopping in the produce section of the grocery store—your lungs will thank you handsomely.
Keep your home environment free of pollution
To improve the quality of your air at home, use natural cleaning supplies like vinegar and baking soda.
In addition, regularly change your air and furnace filters and have your HVAC system properly maintained.
Avoid using air fresheners. All they do is cover up odors, plus they can irritate your lungs.
Vacuum your home regularly and steam clean carpets and floors.
And lastly, if you live with a smoker, insist that they take their habit outdoors.
Now take a deep breath and put these lung saving measures to work for you!
To your health,