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Reducing lung cancer risk is on radar

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Health Minister Erin Selby is pictured in a file photo with (right) Dr. Michael Routledge, chief provincial public health officer. Selby recently said in a news release that the province wants to work with community members to help reduce their risk of lung cancer.

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Health Minister Erin Selby is pictured in a file photo with (right) Dr. Michael Routledge, chief provincial public health officer. Selby recently said in a news release that the province wants to work with community members to help reduce their risk of lung cancer. Photo Store Photo Store

The provincial government is working with leading Manitoba medical experts to encourage individuals to reduce their risk of lung cancer, it has been announced.

This month, in conjunction with Lung Cancer Awareness Month — recognized during November — Health Minister and Southdale MLA Erin Selby said the province wants to work with community members to help reduce their risks.

"It’s never too late to stop smoking or talk to your loved ones about the dangers of smoking," Selby said in a news release. "Working together, we can all be healthier."

Officials say statistics show Manitoba lung cancer rates are in line with other provinces, but lung cancer survival rates are the best in Canada. For the last two decades, the mortality rate for Manitoban men with lung cancer has typically been higher than women. However, while the lung cancer rate for men has been decreasing at a rate of 1% a year, the rate for women has been increasing by 2% a year.

"While there are several known risk factors for lung cancer, including radon exposure, asbestos exposure and air pollution, tobacco remains the leading cause of lung cancer," said Dr. Michael Routledge, chief provincial public health officer, in the release. "The good news is that Manitobans can take steps to reduce their risk and maintain good health."

Smoking contributes to the vast majority of lung cancer deaths. Manitoba has implemented several legislative and taxation policies to curb smoking, including legislation introduced in 2010 that prohibits smoking in vehicles when children are present. Exposure to other lung cancer risks, such as radon or asbestos, can also increase the risk of lung cancer, officials say.

Individuals can reduce the risk of lung cancer by taking steps that include quitting smoking and eliminating exposure to second-hand smoke, testing homes for radon and reducing levels if they are high, using appropriate safety precautions when asbestos might be present, and not contributing to air pollution by taking the bus, car-pooling or avoiding idling cars.

To learn more about quitting smoking, call the Smokers’ Help Line at 1-877-513-5333 (toll-free) or visit smokershelpline.ca

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