Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for women. It kills more women each year than breast, uterine and ovarian cancer combined.
Traditionally, lung cancer has been thought of as a 'man's disease'; an idea mostly perpetuated by the fact that men would smoke much more than women.
But since the decline of cigarette smoking and our growing understanding about the causes of lung cancer, we see that young and middle aged women are now more likely to develop the disease than their male counterparts.
Why is this?
To be honest, we don't fully know. It could be a biological reason, or a behavioral one. According to Dr Kirtly Parker Jones, some behavioral factors which could contribute to lung cancer in women include:
High radon levels in the home, where women generally spend more time
Traffic fumes, since women spend more time in traffic, taking children to various appointments & activities, and running errands
A high exposure to smoke in the kitchen from frying, roasting, broiling etc.
But at the end of the day, these are just theories. Especially considering the changing nature of gender roles in society, it's difficult to determine whether these factors do contribute meaningfully to the statistics.
An important fact that we can say for certain, however, is that the symptoms of lung cancer are actually different in women than in men.
The symptoms of the disease in men are a persistent, and sometimes bloody cough, while women will usually only develop a shortness of breath (which is usually written off as old age or weight gain).
It's true that both symptoms can also manifest in the opposite sex, but generally this is how lung cancer will display itself.
With all this in mind, the question we ask is; what can women be doing to prevent lung cancer?
We have three key suggestions:
Stop smoking. If someone who lives with you smokes, get them to stop as well.
Keep the air in the home clear. Make sure the house is well ventilated and use the range-hood when cooking.
Limit outdoor activity on days with polluted air. This is more applicable for people in metro-areas, but if you live rurally, bear this in mind during the bushfire season.
We hope this article has helped you to better understand how Australia's most deadly cancer affects women, and what you can be doing to prevent it.
Source: https://healthcare.utah.edu/the-scope/shows.php?shows=0_ziut6aix#:~:text=Lung cancer is the leading,Women's health expert Dr.