Ottawa – November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, an opportunity to raise awareness about lung cancer and the actions we can take to help prevent it and reduce the stigma associated with this disease. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer for men and women in Canada. With nearly 30,000 Canadians diagnosed every year, it is also the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada.
While the main cause of lung cancer is smoking, other factors can play a role, like air pollution and exposure to radon gas. By understanding the risks, people can take preventative measures to lower the risk of developing lung cancer and other chronic diseases. In people who do not smoke or have not smoked, radon is the number one cause of lung cancer, leading to the deaths of more than 3,200 Canadians each year. Exposure to high levels of radon in indoor air results in an increased risk of developing this disease. To protect ourselves and our families, we should test our homes for radon by purchasing a radon test kit, available online, at select local retailers, and from certified radon professionals.
For those who smoke, quitting is one of the best things a person can do for their lungs. When someone stops smoking, their risk of lung cancer decreases; however, the earlier they quit, the greater the long-term benefit. Remarkably, the health benefits of quitting smoking can be felt as early as twenty minutes after your last cigarette.
Canada’s Tobacco Strategy is the current federal strategy to address tobacco use in Canada and is designed to help achieve the target of less than 5% tobacco use among Canadians by 2035. We have committed $66 million annually since 2018 to help Canadians who smoke to quit or reduce the harms of their addiction to nicotine, and to protect youth and people who do not use tobacco from the dangers of tobacco use and nicotine addiction.
The Government of Canada has many resources available to help people quit smoking. The Tools for a Smoke-Free Life campaign encourages adults who smoke to learn more about the many easy-to-use resources and supports that can help them quit. The campaign also features inspiring testimonials from Canadians who no longer smoke. Canadians can also contact the pan-Canadian toll-free quitline where trained specialists can help people develop a plan, answer questions and provide referrals to programs and services in their community.
The quitline can be reached at 1-866-366-3667 or online at Gosmokefree.gc.ca/quit. For more information and resources to help quit smoking, visit Canada.ca/quit-smoking. If you need mental health or substance use support, please talk to a doctor and reach out to family and friends for support. On this Lung Cancer Awareness Month, we encourage all Canadians to make healthy lifestyle choices, and to support people impacted by this disease.- Mark Holland, Ya’ara Saks