UC HEALTH LINE: Women Often Underestimate Risk for Lung Cancer
Although men have traditionally had higher rates of lung cancer than women, the National Cancer Institute says that number is now declining and the incidence among women is on the rise.
And this, says University of Cincinnati (UC) pulmonologist Elsira Pina, DO, should make women stand up and take notice.
“Women often don’t view themselves as prime candidates for lung cancer,” says Dr. Pina, “but the truth is, this disease should be on their radar screen. It’s the No. 1 cancer killer among women.”
Dr. Pina, a physician with the UC Heart and Vascular Center, says there are steps you can take to lower your risk for lung cancer and improve overall health—and one of those steps is to stop or never start smoking.
“Because 80 percent of lung cancer deaths in women are due to smoking, the best thing to do to prevent this disease is to quit, or better yet, never start in the first place,” says Dr. Pina.
It’s also important, she says, to encourage those around you to do the same—if not for their health, then for your own.
“Second-hand smoke is very unhealthy and is associated with an increased risk for lung cancer,” adds Dr. Pina. “Take measures to avoid it.”
Dr. Pina also agrees it is important to maintain a healthy diet.
“Research suggests that eating more fruits and vegetables can lower your risk for many types of cancer,” she says.
You can also keep yourself healthy by taking precautions at work and home.
“Be sure to ask questions about fumes you breathe or other exposures,” suggests Dr. Pina. “There are ways to protect you from harmful materials.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more people die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. In 2002, more than 80,000 women were diagnosed with lung cancer, and 67,509 of them died from the disease.
The CDC places lung cancer as the third most common cancer among white and American Indian/Alaska Native females and the third most common cancer among black, Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic females.
UC Heart and Vascular Center integrates physicians and surgeons from multiple departments within the UC College of Medicine to offer advanced, comprehensive heart, lung and vascular care in the Tristate region.
“UC Health Line” contains timely health information and is distributed by the UC Academic Health Center Public Relations and Communications Office.