On August 1, 2021, people across the globe come together to recognize World Lung Cancer Day — an annual international campaign that brings much-needed education and awareness to one of the world’s deadliest diseases.
Each year, lung cancer reaffirms its position as one of the leading causes of death in the world, killing more men and women than any other cancer. In the United States alone, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that 131,880 Americans will die of lung cancer in 2021.
LUNG FORCE, an initiative of the not-for-profit American Lung Association (ALA), encourages widespread, international participation on World Lung Cancer Day. Side-by-side with ACS and other health organizations, their ultimate goal is to defeat lung cancer once and for all.
But defeating such a cancer cannot happen without awareness, knowledge, and dedication.
What to Do This Year on World Lung Cancer Day
As part of your participation in World Lung Cancer Day, LUNG FORCE recommends that people take the following three actions:
- Review and understand the risk factors: Many people know that smoking can cause lung cancer. But lung cancer can also be caused by secondhand smoke and exposure to air pollution and toxic substances, such as radon gas and asbestos.
- Learn the importance of screening: The key to beating any cancer is detecting it as soon as possible. The ALA estimates that 25,000 American lives could be saved every year if high-risk individuals got screened. Getting screened by a low-dose CT scan can help spot tumors before they start to grow and spread.
- Fight back: Make a difference for yourself and for those in your local community by contacting elected officials and asking them to support cancer research and policies that protect people from lung cancer, such as lowering pollution and exposure to toxic substances.
In addition to the above actions, spread awareness of World Lung Cancer Day by sharing information on social media platforms, encouraging your family and friends to get involved, and leading by example. Those who are educated must help others get educated.
Smoking Kills — So Does Breathing in Other Harmful Toxins
Over the last several decades, the world has come to terms with the fact that smoking causes lung cancer. What many people are still learning, however, is that lung cancer can also be caused by exposure to pollution and other carcinogenic substances.
As Earth’s collective march toward global warming accelerates, the amount of pollution in the air grows more toxic. Pollution in some areas — such as Fresno, California — is so high that people breathe unsafe air every time they step outside their homes.
The American Lung Association’s 2021 “State of the Air” report found that more than 40 percent of Americans, 135 million people, breathe unsafe air.
Exposure to radon gas can also cause lung cancer. When breathed in, the radioactive elements of radon gas can get stuck in the lungs, where they continue to emit radiation. Over time, this radiation can damage lung cells and lead to the development of cancer.
Similarly, asbestos — a naturally occurring mineral that was used for decades in construction and industrial products — is lethal. Like the radioactive particles in radon gas, individual asbestos fibers are microscopic. Breathing in these fibers is incredibly dangerous. Once the fibers get lodged in the lining of the lungs, they can spur the development of cancer.
Asbestos can cause at least two kinds of cancer: mesothelioma and lung cancer.
According to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), it’s estimated that asbestos kills nearly 40,000 Americans each year. And yet, in spite of all of the damning evidence against it, asbestos is still not banned in the United States.
To fight back against the scourge of asbestos and lung cancer, urge your local officials and congressional representatives to support the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act (ARBAN) — a bill that would finally, once and for all, ban all asbestos use in America.
Join the Fight and Spread Awareness
When it comes to lung cancer, no one should have to fight alone. The deadly toll of lung cancer affects millions of people around the globe every single year. The fight for a safer, healthier world is something everyone must get behind.
Join us in honoring World Lung Cancer Day this year by raising awareness of lung cancer’s risk factors, and by educating family and friends on how they can reduce their chances of succumbing to this fatal disease.