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Driving raises your lung cancer risk, warn experts

by , 06 October 2014

On a beautiful summer's day, the best thing to do when driving around is to open the windows and let the air just flow through your car.

But did you ever think this every day act could leave you with an increased cancer risk?

It's true!

Just look at the number of trucks, busses and old cars using our roads every day. Now think about how long you sit in traffic with the “skadonk” in front of you puffing exhaust smoke right into your air vents.

That's what's raising your risk, says Cancer Research UK.

In fact, without adding any other risk factors like smoking, your diet and general physical activity levels, your risk of lung cancer based purely pn air pollution is an incredible 3%.

Now that may not seem like a lot if you just look at the one figure but, as we'll show you, it really is significant…

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The harmful particles car exhausts release is raising your lung cancer risk

When you breathe in, your lungs pull in air and all the particles that are in it. Usually, little hairs inside your nose and airways filter bigger particles, preventing them from entering the sensitive lung tissue. But there are particles that easily pass through, like those in car emissions.
Carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide particles are among ones that harm your health because of the way they prevent the right amounts of oxygen from being breathed in and sent to your tissues..
There are also cancer-causing particles in exhaust fumes – things like formaldehyde and benzene – which, when they pass into your lung cells, change their function and can cause cancer.
So how big is your risk?

Three in every 100 South Africans will develop lung cancer because of car emissions

If you work in a big office building like Discovery Health in Johannesburg, you’re working with about 5,000 other people.
Did you know a whopping 150 of your colleagues will suffer from the effects of lung cancer just because of their daily commute and their exposure to the harmful emissions of the vehicles on SA roads?
Scary, isn’t it!
And it’s even worse when your exposure levels are higher because of your car or mode of transport. If the air vents are faulty and emissions constantly blow into the inside of your car, your risk is even higher.
Even waiting for your taxi or bus increases your exposure to these harmful fumes.
Luckily, this type of lung cancer is preventable.
Here are four ways to protect your health to lower your risk…
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Lower your lung cancer risk with these four tips

Tip #1: Stand away from the roads when waiting for public transport
If you wait at the side of the road, move yourself and other commuters away from the side of the road where vehicles pass. Instead, where possible, stand away from where exhaust emission blow out.
If you do happen to be standing where a thick black cloud comes from a car, cover your nose and mouth with a hanky or piece of clothing to prevent the soot particles from entering your lungs.
Tip #2: Set your air vents to circulate internal air
In your own car, block of external air flow, especially when you sit in traffic. Use your AC instead as it filters the air before making it cooler. This also eliminates the need to open your windows and let air from inside in.
Tip #3: Where possible, avoid peak traffic
Many people have flexible work hours nowadays, so, where possible, avoid driving in heavy traffic where you’re surrounded by heavy smoke and vehicle emissions.
Tip #4: Help your body cope with toxins by eating antioxidant rich foods
Eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables can help your body eliminate toxins and prevent them from harming you. Add antioxidant rich foods to your diet every day.
Bottom line: Avoid the harmful effects of bad driving habits to lower your lung cancer risk!

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