November is considered the lung cancer awareness month. While consumption of tobacco or tobacco products like cigarettes remains the leading cause of lung cancer, environmental factors, especially in the developing world, are also having a severe impact on lung health. Toxic air is particularly something many Indian cities have been battling and not just adults, children’s health is also being compromised. Dr Ravi Shankerji Kesari, General Physician, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Bangalore, shares, “In the developing world, environmental factors and their effects on health have become a concern. The deteriorating environment has many health risks, one of which is lung cancer in children. Children, with their developing and vulnerable respiratory systems, are particularly sensitive to the harmful effects of air pollution and other environmental factors.”
How Toxic Air Affects Children
Poor air quality is a major cause of respiratory problems in children, which increases the risk of lung cancer. “Due to weak lungs, exposure to pollutants like particulate matter, ozone and nitrogen dioxide can harm children, impairing lung function and increasing the chances of respiratory infections. Long-term exposure to these pollutants has been linked to the development of lung cancer in adulthood,” warns Dr Kesari.
Air Pollution: 7 Tips To Keep Children Safe
Protecting children from the harmful effects of environmental factors involves a multi-pronged approach, shares Dr Kesari. He advocates the following steps:
1. First and foremost, it is important to understand the air quality in the area. Then advise children not to go out of the house unless necessary in polluted air. Encourage them for indoor activities on days when air quality is compromised
2. Advise children to wear masks when going out during deteriorating air conditions.
3. Having indoor plants in the house will purify the air inside the house.
4. Create a clean indoor environment. Ensure proper ventilation and consider using an air purifier to maintain clean indoor air.
5. Encourage healthy habits. Adopt a lifestyle that promotes clean air, a balanced diet and physical activity.
6. Promote green spaces. Advocate and support initiatives that promote green spaces in urban areas, providing clean and oxygen-rich environments to children
7. Don’t ignore warning signs. Be alert for respiratory symptoms and seek medical help immediately if any problems arise.
Pay Attention To Diet And Other Lifestyle Choices Of Kids
Apart from environmental factors, lifestyle choices play an important role in reducing the risk of lung cancer in children, says Dr Kesari. He adds that a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides essential antioxidants that fight the effects of pollutants. “Encourage regular physical activity to support overall health and lung function, and discourage exposure to tobacco smoke, a significant contributor to lung cancer risk,” the doctor adds.
In conclusion, Dr Kesari shares, “Collective efforts are needed to protect children from the risk of lung cancer associated with environmental factors. By staying informed, adopting a healthy lifestyle and advocating for a clean environment, a safe and healthy future for the next generation can be created.”
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