Lung Cancer

What you do, what you eat, and how you handle stress impact your overall state of well-being.

Lung and bronchus cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, with over 225,000 new diagnoses in 2012, and an estimated 87,750 and 72,590 deaths predicted to occur in men and women, respectively. This is nearly as many cancer deaths and prostate, breast, and colon cancer combined.

85% of all cases are non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), with most patients diagnosed after the disease has advanced.

Lung cancer has a mortality rate that has changed very little, getting slightly worse over the last 40 years.[1]

In the United States 85-90% of all cases are due to tobacco smoking, making this a very preventable condition.

Eat a plant-rich diet, with diverse fruits and vegetable, emphasizing cruciferous (broccoli, cauliflower, kale) and colorful fruits and vegetables, and flavonoid rich foods (citrus, dark chocolate, tea).[2][3]

Causes/Contributing Factors

Smoking increases the risk for lung cancer by a factor of 10-30 fold compared to “never-smokers.”

Second-hand smoke is also thought to contribute to nearly 20% of lung cancer cases among non-smokers, raising lung cancer risk approximately 30% versus those with no exposure.[4]

Because smoking is responsible for such a large percentage of lung cancer cases, it is often ignored that non-smoking causes of lung cancer are still one of the top 10 causes of cancer mortality.[5] This includes occupational exposure to known lung carcinogens, such as asbestos, arsenic, nickel, and radon, as well as environmental air pollution, such as that caused by fossil fuel combustion.

Dietary factors also influence the risk of lung cancer, as diets higher in fruits and vegetables are protective, especially cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, etc.[6]

Avoid exposure to environmental toxins – air pollution, radon, wood smoke, etc.

Relevant Diagnostic Testing

Screening CT scans May be of benefit for those at high risk, such as older individuals with a long history of smoking.

Imaging Including CT, MRI, and positron emission tomography Likely be used to monitor treatment efficacy and detection of recurrence.[7]

Vitamin D levels Vitamin D levels have been associated with both risk of developing lung cancer and survival among lung cancer patients.[8]

C-reactive protein levels Elevated C-reactive protein levels have been associated with a greater risk of early death, and may help guide appropriate anti-inflammatory treatments.[9]

Be physically active – this has been shown to be associated with a better quality of life among lung cancer patients.[10]

Dietary Action Plan


  1. Brightly colored, fresh vegetables, leafy greens and fresh fruits (choose organic if possible)
  2. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, which have high levels of DIM & isothiocyanates
  3. Whole foods (foods that are as close to their natural form as possible)
  4. Low sugar/low glycemic diet (Glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) are measures of the effect on blood glucose level after a food containing carbohydrates is consumed)
  5. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold water fish such as sardines, wild-caught salmon, cod, mackerel, tuna
  6. High fiber, from whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits
  7. Healthy fats, from avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, cold water fish
  8. For animal protein, choose lean poultry and fish over red meat, and aim to view meat as a condiment rather than a staple. Try to choose grass fed and organic meats and eggs whenever possible. Eat no fish larger than a salmon to minimize environmental contaminants, including mercury.


  1. Processed and grilled meats. Also, try to limit intake of red meat
  2. Fast foods, fried foods, baked goods and packaged, processed foods
  3. Sugar, sweeteners  and artificial sweeteners
  4. Vegetable oils, shortening, margarine and anything with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils
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Lung Cancer Supplement Program

Multiple nutritional supplements have been associated with reduced cancer incidence and/or cancer progression. The list below contains those with the greatest evidence-base and benefit, though it is not necessary that they all be included.

Supplement Info



  • Vitamin D
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Green Tea Extract
  • Curcumin
  • Resveratro
  • Quercetin
  • Melatonin
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K2
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[1] Siegel R, Naishadham D, Jemal A. Cancer statistics, 2012. CA Cancer J Clin. 2012 Jan-Feb;62(1):10-29.

[2] Wright M.E., Park Y., Subar A.F.,et al: Intakes of fruit, vegetables, and specific botanical groups in relation to lung cancer risk in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Am J Epidemiol 2008; 168: 1024-1034.

[3] Christensen KY, Naidu A, Parent MÉ, et al. The risk of lung cancer related to dietary intake of flavonoids. Nutr Cancer. 2012;64(7):964-74.

[4] Dela Cruz CS, Tanoue LT, et al. Lung cancer: epidemiology, etiology, and prevention. Clin Chest Med. 2011 Dec;32(4):605-44.

[5] Field RW, Withers BL. Occupational and environmental causes of lung cancer. Clin Chest Med. 2012 Dec;33(4):681-703.

[6] Brennan P, Hsu CC, Moullan N, et al. Effect of cruciferous vegetables on lung cancer in patients stratified by genetic status: a mendelian randomisation approach. Lancet. 2005 Oct 29-Nov 4;366(9496):1558-60.

[7] Erasmus JJ, Sabloff BS. CT, positron emission tomography, and MRI in staging lung cancer. Clin Chest Med. 2008 Mar;29(1):39-57, v.

[8] Tretli S, Schwartz GG, et al. Serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D and survival in Norwegian patients with cancer of breast, colon, lung, and lymphoma: a population-based study. Cancer Causes Control. 2012 Feb;23(2):363-70.

[9] Allin KH, Nordestgaard BG. Elevated C-reactive protein in the diagnosis, prognosis, and cause of cancer. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2011 Jul-Aug;48(4):155-70.

[10] Solberg Nes L, Liu H, Patten CA, et al. Physical activity level and quality of life in long term lung cancer survivors. Lung Cancer. 2012 Sep;77(3):611-6.

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