Please take care of your lungs.

lungsInhale…exhale.  Inhale…exhale.  20 times a minute.  1200 times an hour.  The average person breathes 28,800 times a day!

Most of us take breathing for granted, but people with lung cancer and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) do not.  November is a month when we turn our attention to these two diseases that have enormous impact on the health of our country.  The statistics are staggering.

Lung cancer has consistently been the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women since 1987 when it surpassed breast cancer in women.  There are more annual deaths from lung cancer (over 159,000 are predicted for 2015) than from the next three most common cancers combined (colon, breast and prostate). Finally, is has the lowest 5-year survival rate of any cancer…less than 15%.

COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, is a chronic lung disease that makes breathing difficult and is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.  There are over 11 million people diagnosed with COPD, but the truly surprising statistic is that up to 24 million additional people likely have the disease but have not been diagnosed.

So what can we do to prevent and control these serious chronic diseases?

  1. DON’T SMOKE. It is estimated that 85-90% of COPD and 90% of lung cancer are caused by smoking.  Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your lung health.
  2. AVOID EXPOSURE TO POLLUTANTS THAT CAN DAMAGE YOUR LUNGS like secondhand smoke, outdoor air pollution, chemicals in the home and workplace, and radon.
  3. PREVENT INFECTION… A cold or other respiratory infection can sometimes become very serious.
    1. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
    2. Avoid crowds during the cold and flu season.
    3. Get vaccinated every year against influenza.
    4. If you get sick, stay home from work or school until you’re feeling better.
  4. GET REGULAR HEALTHCARE. Regular check-ups help prevent diseases. This is especially true for lung disease, which sometimes goes undetected until it is serious.
  5. Aerobic exercise helps improve your lung capacity.
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