Whether you’re shopping at a convenience store, reading a magazine, or attending a sports event, it’s hard to escape the tobacco industry’s heavy hand in the advertising game. There are people who do an outstanding job of luring us into giving cigarettes a try.
Unfortunately, teenagers are the ones who often take the bait, ending up as lifelong smokers. Among their parents, there are those who have “quit” dozens of times, only to relapse again and again. It’s a hard habit to break, apparent in the increase in lung cancer incidence and deaths around the world.
The best advice we can take is never to start. With that said, there will always be people who will ignore this advice, and there still will be non-smokers who develop lung cancer due to exposure to X-rays, radon gas, asbestos, air pollution, or other factors, so it doesn’t hurt to put other safeguards to work.
Clearly, smokers have a greater risk for lung cancer than non-smokers no matter what they eat. Delicate lung tissue is simply equipped to fend off the daily (or even occasional) onslaught of concentrated carcinogens delivered through cigarette smoke. If you have been held hostage by the smoking habit, it’s never too late to quit. In just eight hours after your last cigarette, blood oxygen levels return to normal; after one smoke-free year, risk of coronary heart disease will be half that of a smoker’s. Perhaps you’ve tried to go it alone and would benefit from the advice and assistance of your physician. There are dozens of programs available to help you, from nicotine patches to Internet “support groups.” Just begin looking, and you’re bound to find your way to a smoke-free existence.
However, despite the dangers of smoking, foods still have a protective effect. If a smoker or a nonsmoker has a choice between eating grilled vegetables over rice or a hamburger and fries for lunch, the vegetarian meal will provide much-needed antioxidants and even appears to offer some protection against smoking-related lung cancer.