By Gerry Thomas

As we head into the final days of October and conclude Breast Cancer Awareness month, we leave you with some final thoughts.   There are some steps you and your family can take to reduce your risks of cancer including eating a healthy diet, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, getting recommended health screenings, and avoiding tobacco.

November marks Lung Cancer Awareness month and the Great American Smoke-Out.  Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide, nationally, and in Boston. Moreover, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the country and in Boston for both men and women.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States.

The association between smoking and lung cancer dates back to the 1950’s.  In the early 1960’s, the Surgeon General classified this relationship as “causal,” which
means that smoking can cause lung cancer.

A 2004 Surgeon General report found convincing evidence for a direct causal relationship between tobacco use and the following cancers: lung and bronchial, laryngeal, oral cavity and pharyngeal, esophageal, stomach, pancreatic, kidney and renal pelvis, urinary bladder, and cervical cancers and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Environmental tobacco smoke or second-hand smoke has also been determined to be dangerous to your health.

In total, thirty percent of cancer deaths, including 87 percent of lung cancer deaths, are attributable to tobacco use.

Stay tuned for more information about going smoke-free at home, help quitting, and access to free and low-cost cessation services. Boston residents who want to quit smoking can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to receive a free two-week supply of nicotine patches. Medical restrictions may apply, while supplies last.

Gerry Thomas is the acting director of the Community Initiatives Bureau, which oversees programs on cancer and other chronic disease prevention, environmental health, and other healthy community initiatives.