The news that the ABC anchor Peter Jennings had succumbed to lung cancer was quickly followed by the revelation that Dana Reeve was suffering from it as well. Lung cancer is an insidious disease that is more widely spread than is generally appreciated: Every year more than 173,000 diagnoses are made in the United States with over 160,000 people meeting their demise. Of these, increasingly, women are at a higher risk with poorer prognosis.

While 87% of lung cancer cases are related to smoking, nonsmokers like Dan Reeve are not spared. Aside from genetic susceptibility, environmental toxins are responsible for lung cancer not related to smoking. Among the carcinogens in the environment are asbestos and radon, among literally thousands of others.

Repeated exposure to carcinogens from tobacco smoke and the environment injure the lung tissue. To recover from this initial injury, the lung elicits inflammatory response. If the tissue injury persists, inflammation does not subside, and sets the stage for both lung cancer and hardening of the lung tissue. Called fibrosis, tissue hardening is characterized by fiber-like scar formation, which twists alveoli (the grape-like air sacs that take oxygen into and expel carbon dioxide from the lungs) and capillaries (small blood vessels). The end result is that the basic architecture of the inner lung is utterly distorted. This devolution of the tissue leads to emphysema, chronic bronchitis with a typical raspy voice, and other diseases.

The tragedy of lung cancer and related diseases is that they are thoroughly preventable. For example, smoking cessation triggers production of normal cells, which replace the abnormal cells. Recent research suggests that the body begins to recover almost immediately after smoking cessation, progressively lowering the risk of serious diseases may still be given, and the odds get better with time.

Typically, the treatment requires drastic measures, such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. This is, because early stage lung maladies do not cause worrisome symptoms. Recently, however, a form of CT scans is being used to identify lung abnormalities and any small tumors in people deemed prone to lung afflictions. Nevertheless, any cures for lung diseases are far on the horizon.

Despite that, lung health can be sufficiently restored by behavior modification, lifestyle changes and nutritional regimens such as systemic enzymes. Why systemic enzymes? Systemic enzymes not only help modulate the inflammatory response but also restore the balance of substances (notably, tumor growth factor-beta) implicated in scar tissue formation. For more information, please visit

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