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Lung Cancer Prevention for Non-Smokers

What do Non-Smokers Need to Know to Lower Their Risk?


Updated May 15, 2014

Lung cancer prevention for non-smokers is important. Non-smokers get lung cancer too. In fact, lung cancer in non-smokers is the 7th leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. The death of Dana Reeve, wife of “superman” from lung cancer at age 44, raised awareness that even lifelong non-smokers can be at risk for lung cancer. What can non-smokers and smokers do alike to lower their risk?

Test for Radon

Exposure to radon in the home is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that all homes be tested for radon regardless of location. Kits to test for radon can be purchased at most hardware stores.

Avoid Secondhand Smoke

Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of a non-smoker developing lung cancer by a factor of two to three.

Be Aware of Occupational Exposures

Certain occupations are associated with an elevated risk of developing lung cancer, and may require taking precautions to limit exposure. A few of these include:
  • Asbestos workers
  • Wood workers
  • Painters
  • Printers
  • Uranium mining
  • Bartending and waitressing where smoking is allowed

Read Labels on Chemicals

Some chemicals, such as those found in wood stripper, contain lung cancer carcinogens. Labels may recommend a special mask to limit exposure.

Eat an Apple

The National Cancer Institute has estimated that foods that contain flavenoids, such as apples, may reduce the risk of lung cancer by up to 50%.


American Cancer Society. What Are the Risk Factors for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Updated 12/16/10. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/lungcancer-non-smallcell/detailedguide/non-small-cell-lung-cancer-risk-factors

Environmental Protection Agency. Radon. Updated 09/17/12. http://www.epa.gov/radon/

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