FREDERICTON (GNB) – The public is encouraged to observe November as Lung Month.

“This month, I encourage everyone to take care of their lungs and make this province a healthier place to live,” said Health Minister Victor Boudreau. “We must work together to create environments that will support New Brunswickers in living their healthiest life.”

For Lung Month, the Lung Association is reminding the public to appreciate each and every breath. Their national campaign, Breathing as One, is intended to inspire conversations about the importance of breathing and help fund life-saving respiratory research.

People can follow these simple steps to help reduce their risk of lung disease, including cancer:

  • If you smoke, quit; if you do not smoke, do not start.
  • Avoid second-hand smoke.
  • Test your home for radon.
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercise more.

Smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer and chronic lung disease. For those who have never smoked, radon exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer. In New Brunswick, 21 per cent of homes have radon levels above the Health Canada guideline. Often the symptoms of lung cancer do not appear until the disease is in an advanced stage. As the cancer develops, individuals may experience:

  • problems breathing (such as shortness of breath, wheezing, a hoarse voice, and a cough that gets worse or will not go away);
  • chest pain, especially when you breathe deeply or cough;
  • coughing up blood (called hemoptysis);
  • chest infections (such as pneumonia) that are frequent and will not go away;
  • fatigue (feeling very tired all the time); and
  • unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite (feeling that you do not want to eat).

Consult your doctor if any of the above symptoms persist.

Another significant lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, affects about 55,000 New Brunswickers. It is largely due to smoking and causes increasing disability, lost work productivity, and negatively impacts the quality of life of patients and their families. This year, the Department of Health is investing $300,000 to promote awareness and early screening and detection of the disease.

The Lung Association is the lead organization in Canada and in New Brunswick working to promote lung health and prevent and manage lung disease.

“In New Brunswick, Lung Month is a time to celebrate the many advances in lung health and clean air championed by the Lung Association over the past year and to renew our commitment to keep searching for cures for lung disease; to keep helping people to quit smoking and ensuring children never start; and to keep fighting for clean air,” said Barbara MacKinnon, president and CEO of the New Brunswick Lung Association.

More information about the Breathing as One campaign, and about the New Brunswick Lung Association, is available online.

Those interested may join the dialogue on social media by following @NBHealth and @NBlung and using the hashtag #TakeABreather.