A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Myths and facts about lung cancer

graphic illustration of lungs and cigarette on scale - Myth BusterYou may find yourself among the surprising number of Americans who believe many unproven claims about lung cancer. You can help dispel this misinformation by sharing these “myth busters”:

Myth: Only smokers get lung cancer.

This is not accurate. According to the Lung Cancer Foundation of America:

  • 60 percent of new lung cancer diagnoses happen to non-smokers, 15 percent of whom have never smoked a day in their life.
  • The remainder is former smokers who quit 10, 20 or even 30 years prior to diagnosis.

The American Lung Association estimates that active smoking is responsible for close to 90 percent of lung cancer cases; while radon causes 10 percent of cases and occupational exposures to carcinogens account for about nine to 15 percent of cases.

Myth: More women die from breast cancer than from lung cancer.

This is not true. More women die from lung cancer every year than any other form of cancer. Unfortunately, it’s believed the stigma associated with lung cancer has affected the amount of dollars available for research funding. For every woman who dies of breast cancer, more than $26,000 in federal funding is devoted to breast cancer research. But for every woman who dies of lung cancer, just more than $1,000 is invested.

Myth: Switching to ‘light’ cigarettes will cut your risk for lung cancer.

This may seem like a logical assumption. But according to University of Wisconsin – Madison researchers, smokers who switch to brands labeled “light” or “mild” inevitably compensate for the lower levels of tar and nicotine by inhaling smoke more deeply or by smoking more of each cigarette.

Myth: Electronic cigarettes are a safe way to light up.

Safe cigarettes don’t exist. The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about potential health risks associated with electronic cigarettes after finding variable amounts of nicotine and traces of toxic chemicals, including known cancer-causing substances, in two popular brands.

Myth: If you tried quitting once and failed, it’s no use trying again.

Keep trying. Most smokers try several times before quitting for good. Each time you attempt to quit, you will likely learn something that will be useful for your next attempt at quitting.

If you are a smoker and you’re thinking about quitting, or know someone who is ready to quit, consider one of the following resources. Smokers participating in a support program double their chances of kicking the habit.

Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line: 1-800-QUIT-NOW

The Quit Line is available 24 hours a day, every day and offers free medications and live phone coaching.
Call 1-800-784-8669 to talk with a coach today. Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line

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