Just in case you need to be reminded how important breathing is, simply hold your breath for 30 seconds. (Stop early if you start turning purple.) We humans can go nearly a week without food and days without water, but it’s the air that’s all around us that we can’t seem to do without for more than mere minutes.
Awareness and Prevention
It is your lungs that make the magic happen as they expand and contract, processing out carbon dioxide and bringing oxygen rich blood back to the heart for distribution. When lungs are exposed to tobacco smoke, pollution, occupational air hazards, or inhaled street drugs, their ability to function is seriously compromised and in some cases—and the unfortunate result can be lung cancer. Those who are HIV positive are at an even greater risk, which makes it vitally important that smoking, and even breathing secondhand smoke, is avoided.
Due to the high prevalence of smoking, the GLBT population tends to have increased risk of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, as well as increased risk for other cancers such as throat. Recent studies also show an association between smoking and increased frequency of opportunistic infections such as pneumonia. While you can’t control all risk factors, there are definite changes you can make to increase your pulmonary health and decrease your risk of pulmonary diseases.
If you are a smoker, stop smoking. As with heart disease, the high smoking rate in the GLBT community is where the risk factor is higher as well. Smoking is the biggest risk factor for both lung cancer and COPD, and will increase the likeliness of getting asthma. Click here to see some of the great, free resources available that really do work.
Control indoor air pollution. Make sure you home and workplace has adequate ventilation to avoid indoor air pollution.
Avoid outside air pollution. When air pollution levels are high, limit your time outside as much as possible.
Be aware of occupational hazards. If you work with chemical fumes or dust, use safety equipment to reduce the amount of irritants you breathe in.