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Lung Cancer Prevention

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Lung Cancer Prevention takes a different approach to reducing lung cancer deaths than does the article linked and excerpted below. The article below talks about lung cancer screening. Screening for lung cancer is a fine approach. Screening for all cancers has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from said cancer.

Unfortunately, according to the article,  few smokers screen for lung cancer. I’m not a smoker so I don’t understand the thinking. My guess is that nicotine is incredibly addictive so smokers take a fatalistic approach to lung cancer. “If I get it, I get it” kind of thing.

My wife smokes and one of my oldest friends was a lifelong smoker and managed to quit, sort of, after years of failed attempts.

I say “sort of” because Greg stopped smoking cigarettes but could not give up nicotine. Greg chewed nicotine gum and wore nicotine patches constantly.

My thinking is that current smokers- that is people who smoke cigarettes, consider quitting cigarettes and lung cancer prevention by:

  • Nicotine Patch-
  • Nicotine Gum-
  • Vaping- 

Health Risks Associated with Nicotine Patch-

  1. Skin irritation or allergic reactions: Some individuals may experience redness, itching, or other forms of skin irritation at the patch application site. In rare cases, an allergic reaction may occur.
  2. Sleep disturbances: Nicotine is a stimulant, and some people may experience difficulty sleeping or have vivid dreams when using nicotine patches, especially if they use the patch close to bedtime.
  3. Nausea and dizziness: Some users may experience nausea or dizziness, especially if the patch is not applied correctly, or if they continue to smoke while using the patch.
  4. Headaches: Headaches are a possible side effect of nicotine patches. If headaches persist or become severe, individuals should consult their healthcare provider.
  5. Increased heart rate and blood pressure: Nicotine can temporarily increase heart rate and blood pressure. Individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions should consult a healthcare professional before using nicotine patches.
  6. Insomnia: Nicotine can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep.
  7. Gastrointestinal issues: Some users may experience stomach upset or other gastrointestinal issues.

Health Risks Associated with Nicotine Gum-

  1. Nicotine Dependence: Nicotine is an addictive substance, and using nicotine gum can lead to dependence. Prolonged use or misuse of the gum may result in continued addiction to nicotine.
  2. Withdrawal Symptoms: Ironically, using nicotine gum for an extended period and then stopping can lead to withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, mood swings, headaches, and difficulty concentrating.
  3. Gastrointestinal Issues: Nicotine gum can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, including nausea, vomiting, indigestion, and hiccups. Chewing the gum incorrectly or too quickly can exacerbate these side effects.
  4. Jaw and Mouth Issues: Continuous gum chewing can lead to jaw fatigue or discomfort, and improper chewing techniques may cause mouth soreness.
  5. Cardiovascular Effects: While not as significant as the cardiovascular risks associated with smoking, nicotine itself can have cardiovascular effects. It can raise blood pressure and heart rate, which may be a concern for individuals with cardiovascular conditions.
  6. Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may be allergic to certain ingredients in nicotine gum, leading to allergic reactions. Symptoms can include rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, or difficulty breathing.
  7. Nicotine Poisoning: In rare cases, misuse of nicotine gum (chewing too many pieces at once or using it in conjunction with smoking) can lead to nicotine poisoning, characterized by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate, and, in severe cases, seizures.

Health Risks Associated with Vaping-

  1. Respiratory Issues: Vaping can cause respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. There have been cases of severe lung injury associated with vaping, often referred to as vaping-associated lung injury (VALI) or e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI).
  2. Nicotine Addiction: Many e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. Nicotine addiction can have various negative health effects, including increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  3. Brain Development: Adolescents and young adults are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of nicotine on brain development. Nicotine exposure during adolescence can negatively impact memory, attention, and learning.
  4. Chemical Exposure: E-cigarettes produce an aerosol (commonly called vapor) that contains potentially harmful chemicals, including nicotine, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acrolein. Some of these chemicals are known to be toxic or carcinogenic.
  5. Popcorn Lung: Diacetyl, a flavoring chemical used in some e-cigarettes, has been linked to a serious lung disease known as bronchiolitis obliterans, or “popcorn lung.” While diacetyl is banned in e-cigarettes in the European Union, it may still be present in some products in other regions.
  6. Cardiovascular Risks: Vaping has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, including an elevated heart rate, increased blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart attacks.
  7. Dual Use: Some individuals may use both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes, increasing their exposure to harmful substances and negating potential health benefits associated with quitting smoking.
  8. Unknown Long-Term Effects: The long-term health effects of vaping are not yet fully understood, as e-cigarettes are a relatively recent phenomenon. Continued research is needed to assess the potential risks associated with prolonged use.

I am a cancer survivor. I have learned to think about cancer differently. Don’t misunderstand me. Lung cancer prevention is the goal.

In general, I think that fighting cancer should be more mindful of how everyday people think and act. Smokers like my wife are far more likely to stick, chew or vape their way to quitting cigarettes more than they are likely to have their lungs scanned.

Are you a smoker? Are you trying to quit? Have you been diagnosed with lung cancer? What stage? Let me know.


Thank you,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Grappling With Our Deadliest Cancer

“Each year, we lose 127,000 Americans to lung cancer. That’s nearly the equivalent of a commercial airliner packed with passengers falling out of the sky every other day, making lung cancer “by far the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.opens in a new tab or window,” according to the American Cancer Society. For perspective, in people older than 50, we lose more friends, family members, and loved ones to lung cancer annually than we do to

  • colon cancer,
  • breast cancer, and
  • prostate cancer combined

Lung cancer prevention and screening can help detect cancers early. For patients at high risk of lung cancer, an annual low-dose chest CT can reduceopens in a new tab or window the risk of dying from lung cancer by 20%. Yet, even though we have an effective screening process to identify lung cancer in early stages, only 5.8%opens in a new tab or window of eligible people have undergone screening. Of those few patients who underwent screening, only 20%opens in a new tab or window came back for the necessary second round of screening.

Why are we under-utilizing such a valuable resource in lung cancer care? It’s an urgent question, and the answer we give could save lives. Like all weighty questions, this one is complicated.



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