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Lung cancer is a malignancy of the lung. It is characterized by unregulated replication of cells creating tumors, with the possibility of some of the cells spreading to other sites (metastasis).
This article includes a discussion of studies that have assessed whether certain vitamins, minerals, herbs, or other dietary ingredients offered in dietary or herbal supplements may be beneficial in connection with the reduction of risk of developing lung cancer.
This information is provided solely to aid consumers in discussing supplements with their healthcare providers. It is not advised, nor is this information intended to advocate, promote, or encourage self prescription of these supplements for cancer risk reduction or treatment. Furthermore, none of this information should be misconstrued to suggest that dietary or herbal supplements can or should be used in place of conventional anticancer approaches or treatments.
It should be noted that certain studies referenced below, indicating the potential usefulness of a particular dietary ingredient or dietary or herbal supplement in connection with the reduction of risk of lung cancer, are preliminary evidence only. Some studies suggest an association between high blood or dietary levels of a particular dietary ingredient with a reduced risk of developing lung cancer. Even if such an association were established, this does not mean that dietary supplements containing large amounts of the dietary ingredient will necessarily have a cancer risk reduction effect.
Cancer of the lung is the leading cause of death from cancer in both men and women in the United States. Cigarette smoking is by far the most important risk factor for the development of lung cancer. Air pollution is another risk factor. A previous diagnosis of tuberculosis increases the risk of lung cancer by 5 to 10%.
In its early stages, lung cancer usually causes no symptoms. As a result, lung cancer is generally not diagnosed until the disease is relatively advanced. At the time of diagnosis, common symptoms of lung cancer are similar to those of some other respiratory diseases: cough, blood stained sputum, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Lung cancer is sometimes diagnosed from a chest x-ray done for another condition. Pneumonia lasting more than two months may indicate the presence of lung cancer and should be followed-up with further testing. Later symptoms of lung cancer generally result from spread to other parts of the body (metastasis). These symptoms may include chest or shoulder pain, unexplained weight loss, bone pain, hoarseness, headaches, seizures and swelling of the face or neck. Lung cancer is usually a fatal disease, except for the minority of patients diagnosed at the early stages of the disease.
The following lifestyle changes have been studied in connection with lung cancer.
Cigarette smoking is universally acknowledged to be the leading cause of lung cancer, both in the United States and worldwide. By far the most important way to reduce the risk of lung cancer is to not smoke.1
Many studies now show that exposure to passive smoke—the cigarette smoke from others’ cigarettes—significantly increases the risk of lung cancer.2 As non-smoking sections of restaurants have nearly the same level of smoke as do the smoking sections, it makes sense to seek restaurants that do not permit any smoking and to avoid bars unless they are also non-smoking establishments.
Inhalant exposure to diesel exhaust, pitch and tar, dioxin, arsenic, chromium, cadmium, and nickel compounds may also increase the risk of lung cancer.3 Exposure to asbestos is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer.
Radon exposure has been reported to contribute to the risk of lung cancer in the general population.4 Radon, a natural radioactive substance, can leak into basements from the surrounding soil. Radon exposure can also occur from the water system of houses, particularly when people take showers. Underground miners are also exposed to varying amounts of radioactivity from radon.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.
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