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Lung Cancer

Dietary and Lifestyle Considerations

Several dietary and lifestyle management strategies may help reduce the risk of lung cancer and/or improve treatment outcomes.

Smoking Cessation

Smoking cessation is one of the key strategies for preventing lung cancer and an important component in lung cancer treatment (Risser 1996; Leone 2013). Smoking can also affect the quality of life for patients already diagnosed who continue to smoke, and some surgeons will not even operate on someone who continues to smoke (Leone 2013; NCCN 2014a). Fortunately, there are several evidence-based approaches shown to help people quit and stay tobacco-free.

Several forms of nicotine replacement therapy are available by prescription or over the counter, including chewing gum, patches, inhalers, nasal sprays, and lozenges. In addition, the prescription drugs bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix) are approved for smoking cessation and often used in conjunction with nicotine replacement. Although varenicline appears more effective than bupropion or the nicotine patch, it is more likely to cause nausea (Leone 2013; Stead 2008; NCCN 2014a). The antidepressants nortriptyline (Pamelor, Aventyl), paroxetine (Paxil), and venlafaxine (Effexor), while not specifically approved for smoking cessation, are also used (Hughes 2014; Killen 2000; Cinciripini 2005).

The government website http://smokefree.gov provides additional information on smoking cessation.

Controlling Glucose Levels

Studies find that people with diabetes and lung cancer have a worse prognosis. One study found that NSCLC patients with fasting blood glucose levels of 126 mg/dL or higher were 69% more likely to die from lung cancer than those with a normal level (Luo 2012). Another study found that people with diabetes who underwent resection of NSCLC had 5-year local recurrence rates of 56% compared to 26% in those without diabetes (Varlotto 2012).

Healthy Diet

Several studies found that good nutrition after surgical removal of primary lung cancers can significantly improve quality of life (Sanchez-Lara 2012). Moreover, preventing malnutrition and having a well-balanced diet can lower the risk of post-surgery complications such as infection and death (Bagan 2013; Sanchez-Lara 2012).

Adhering to a Mediterranean diet may reduce lung cancer risk. In a study of 4336 current smokers or individuals who recently quit smoking, greater adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet was associated with an up to 90% reduced risk of lung cancer (Gnagnarella 2013). Another study examined specific aspects of the Mediterranean diet and found that exclusive use of olive oil and consumption of the sage spice were significantly associated with reduced lung cancer risk (Fortes 2003).​