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The Color Is Not Pink, But Lung Cancer Is Deadly

The Color Is Not Pink, But Lung Cancer Is Deadly
Written by Gloria Linnertz
Thursday, 13 November 2008 13:43
Lung Cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the US. As everyone knows, October was National Breast Cancer Awareness Month; yet, very few people are aware that November is National Lung Cancer Awareness Month! The American Lung Association indicates that twice as many women die of lung cancer each year than of breast cancer, and three times the number of men died of lung cancer than of prostate cancer. Lung cancer kills more people than breast, prostate, and colon cancer combined. The American Cancer Society estimates 215,020 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008. Prevention is the way to win the war on lung cancer! Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, but radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and second only to smoking. The National Academy of Sciences, the American Lung Association, the National Cancer Institute, The Environmental Protection Agency, and the World Health Organization indicate that radon-induced lung cancer takes the lives of 21,000 people each year.

When the doctor told my husband, Joe, to quit smoking or don’t come back to see him, he did quit smoking. He then had triple bypass surgery, because smoking narrows the arteries and accelerates the possibility of arteriosclerosis or as some used to say “hardening of the arteries.” With a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet and daily exercise, that bypass surgery lasted twenty years, which was great according to the physicians; then because by-passed arteries tend to clog more readily than normal arteries, a second triple bypass was successfully performed in November almost twenty years to the very day, from the first one.

Six years later, we found that Joe had lung cancer, which had spread to his liver and bones. When we asked the oncologist what could have caused this lung cancer he said, “Smoking and radon gas.” There was no surgery to fix the lung cancer that had metastasized. Joe died within six weeks of diagnosis. After his death, I found out that we had been living with high levels of radon gas for over 18 years and didn’t know it. We didn’t know that radon gas was the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. The combination of tobacco smoke and radon multiplies the danger of one's lung cancer risk – a sort of “double whammy.” We didn’t know that it is very easy to test a house for radon and if the level is high, it is not difficult to fix. Please go to http://www.epa.gov/iaq/whereyoulive.html and click on your state because many states offer free radon test kits!

Radon is a radioactive gas released from the normal decay of uranium in rocks and soil. It is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that seeps up through the ground and can seep into our homes and buildings through openings around pipes and sump pumps and through the concrete, so there’s no way to know if you are living with this silent killer unless you test for it. It can be in any type of home: frame, brick, old, new, with a basement or without a basement. The surgeon general urges everyone to test for radon in his or her home because each home is different and must be tested individually. Just because your neighbor had a very low radon level does not mean that your home will also test low. The EPA’s action level is 4.0 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L), but consideration should be given to lowering that to 2.0 pCi/L.

The Office of Inspector General sent a release on November 8, 2008 to Congress, which included the following paragraph:

Of 6.7 million new single -family detached homes built nationwide between 2001 and 2005, only about 469,000 incorporated radon-resistant features. Of 76.1 million existing single family homes in the United States in 2005, only about 2.1 million had radon-reducing features in place.

Please let me repeat: “Prevention is the way to win the war on lung cancer.” I urge you to quit smoking and to test your home for radon gas. If you are building a new home, please incorporate radon control features in the construction. If not for yourself, do it for those who love you and for those you love. Only 12% to 15% of those diagnosed with lung cancer live five years. There are not large masses of demonstrators against lung cancer, because many of them are not here to share their stories with us. Please go to www.cansar.org to see the faces and read the stories of nonsmokers who have been diagnosed with lung cancer and were living with high levels of radon.

Gloria Linnertz

VP, Cancer Survivors Against Radon (CanSAR)

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 13 November 2008 13:47 )

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