Love Your Lungs Week 2022

21st June 2022

Lung health and overall lung condition can play a huge role in overall health. The lungs play a vital role in the respiratory system by taking in oxygen, and releasing carbon dioxide when breathing. Your lungs are constantly working 24 hours a day, although sometimes you may not realise it. Breathing is one of the processes that we do all the time that we forget we are doing, much like blinking. To actually realise you are breathing you have to completely focus on your breath. 

Taking care of your lungs is essential, and can not only promote good overall health, but it can play a role in extending life. This is why Love Your Lungs Week 2022 is so important. In this article, we will explain exactly what Love Your Lungs Week is, and what the foundations are that are behind it. We will also explain some of the statistics behind lung conditions such as cancer, as well as the causes. We will also explore possible preventative measures you can take in order to keep your lungs healthy. 

A pair of hands holding a pair of lungs.

What is Love Your Lungs Week?

Love Your Lungs Week 2022 is an annually held awareness week, focused on promoting good lung health. Lungs are often taken for granted and are regularly abused despite being so important. Love Your Lungs Week is being held between the 21st and the 27th of June 2022 and was originally set up by the British Lung Foundation, which is also known as Asthma + Lung UK. Some common conditions that affect the lungs are cancer, asthma or COPD, collapses, and infections.  

Who are the British Lung Foundation and who are Asthma + Lung UK?

The British Lung Foundation, also known as Asthma + Lung UK, is a foundation that is campaigning for better healthcare for conditions based around the lungs. Lung diseases are now the third most common killer in the UK, costing the NHS more than £9 billion per year. The BLF believed that people with lung conditions are often overlooked and do not receive the care that they need. This is why they set up Love Your Lungs Week, as a way of bringing awareness to the people they feel are being mistreated. 

What are the statistics on lung cancer?

The statistics surrounding lung cancer are alarming. They are, according to Cancer Research UK, as follows:

Cases (Per Year)

Deaths (Per Year)

Survival Rate

Preventable Cases (Per Year)

48,549

34,771

40.6% First Year


16.2% Five Years or More


9.5% Ten Years of More

79%

Around 48,549 on average will be diagnosed with lung cancer per year, of those 48,549, 71% of the cases will have been preventable. On average every year 34,771 people will die of lung cancer, with only around 40.6% of cases surviving the first year. Adding to this, only 16.2% of people will survive for five years or more with the disease, and only 9.5% of people will survive ten years or more with the disease. That means if 48,549 people are diagnosed a year, only 4,612 will live for ten years or more. 

Causes of Lung Problems

What does smoking do to your lungs?

Smoking is one of the biggest factors when it comes to lung diseases and conditions. When you smoke, you are inhaling toxins and chemicals directly into your lungs. Smoking damages the airways in your lungs and the air sacs, alveoli, in your airways. These air sacs are destroyed by smoking, meaning you are not getting optimum oxygen exchange when breathing. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and should be quit before it is too late. 

How does COVID-19 affect the lungs?

The COVID-19 pandemic began in December 2019 and was quickly recognised as a disease that affected the respiratory system. COVID-19 infects the lungs and can irritate the lining of the airways. This infection can spread all the way down to your alveoli, making it difficult to breathe, hence why people were being placed on respiratory equipment. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, you may wish to choose to wear a mask to protect yourself and others. 

How does indoor air pollution affect your lungs?

Breathing in anything other than oxygen can have a great effect on your lung health. When the air is polluted with chemicals, these can find their way into your respiratory system, and your lungs, when you breathe in. 

How does exercise affect your lungs?

When you exercise, you are working your lungs. By exercising and increasing heart rate, your lungs need to work harder. By working harder, you are increasing your lung capacity by increasing the blood flow to the lungs, allowing for more oxygen to be delivered into the blood. Exercise should always be done safely, and you should stop if you feel that your lungs are being overworked. 

A doctor examining an x-ray of a pair of lungs.

Breathing exercises to strengthen the lungs

One of the best ways to increase your lung capacity is by practising breathing exercises. Perhaps the best breathing exercise you can do is called diaphragmatic breathing. To do this, follow the instruction below:

  • Sitting or lying down, relax your shoulders.
  • Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
  • Breathe in through the nose for two seconds, making sure that the hand on the stomach is moving more than the one on your chest. 
  • Purse your lips and breathe out through your mouth whilst pressing the hand on your stomach inwards. 
  • Repeat this several times.

What are the best foods rich in antioxidants for lungs?

Antioxidants are molecules that are used by the body to combat free radicals in your body. A free radical is a compound that can cause harm to the body if not fought off quickly. Some conditions caused by free radicals include certain cancers, including lung cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Whilst your body has its own antioxidants, you can supplement these by eating certain foods that are rich in antioxidants. Some foods that are very rich in antioxidants include:

  • Pecan nuts
  • Berries, particularly strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries
  • Dark chocolate
  • Leafy vegetables such as kale or spinach

How to reduce air pollution

Air pollution can also cause great damage to the lungs. Thankfully, there are ways that you can reduce air pollution around you in order to remain safe. You can reduce general air pollution by cutting your carbon emissions. Some great ways of doing this include using public transport, recycling or reusing packaging, reducing the amount you drive, or using clean energy sources such as solar or wind power. On a smaller scale, you can improve air quality around you by using air purifiers, or by putting more plants around your home.

Love Your Lungs Week 2022 is a great opportunity to turn your focus onto an incredibly important part of your body that you may often overlook. Whether you suffer from asthma, are concerned about the effects of COVID-19 and mask-wearing, or are concerned about how to make your lungs healthier to deter lung cancer, there are many reasons why the Love Your Lungs Week 2022 is an important awareness week.

Sources

https://www.blf.org.uk/take-action/campaign/loveyourlungsweek

https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/lung-cancer

https://phw.nhs.wales/services-and-teams/healthy-working-wales/health-and-wellbeing-workplace-guidance/national-campaigns/national-campaigns-calendar/love-your-lungs-week/

https://intranet.royalholloway.ac.uk/staff/your-employment/human-resources/organisation-development/working-well-from-home/weekly-wellbeing-focus-healthy-lungs-week.aspx

https://www.awarenessdays.com/awareness-days-calendar/love-your-lungs-week-2022/

https://www.healthwatchhertfordshire.co.uk/event/2022-06-21/love-your-lungs-week