Avoid mould and ride a bike: 20 expert tips on how to look after your lungs for life

With air quality an increasing worry, the health of our lungs has never been more important. Here, experts share how to take care of yours Sarah Phillips, 14 Mar 2024

THE GUARDIAN – We can’t breathe without them, and there are plenty of things that make them work less well.

So what can you do to keep your lungs healthy?

Pulmonologists weigh in on how to take care of your respiratory system for life.

1. No smoking

“The most important thing is not to smoke,” says Philip Barber, a pulmonologist in Manchester. “Lung cancer kills 35,000 people a year in the UK – more than breast, prostate and colorectal combined. It is not only cancer; lots of diseases are caused by smoking.

2. Quitting is better than cutting down

“I tell patients that cutting down typically doesn’t work – stopping completely is much better,” says Stefan Marciniak, a pulmonologist at Cambridge University Hospitals and professor of respiratory science at Cambridge University.

...article continued below
- Advertisement -

“If you smoke, you’ve got a 50% chance of dying of smoke.”

3. That applies to smoking cannabis, too

“Cannabis can cause emphysema 20 years faster [than tobacco],” says Marciniak.

4. Vaping is not your friend

Vaping is not proven to be safe. It is not as safe as breathing fresh air.

5. Be aware of occupational exposure

“There are certain jobs associated with the potential for lung damage, which would be dusty or dirty jobs, such as in construction,” says Han.

“There are other occupations where we don’t fully understand what the potential impacts are, like working as a nail or hair technician.” For those working in these kinds of salons, Han recommends considering “better ventilation and trying to use products that are lower in volatile organic compounds (VOCs)”.

...article continued below
- Advertisement -

6. Travel actively

“Air quality inside cars is generally worse than the outside and exposure to pollution is higher,” says Nick Hopkinson, medical director of Asthma and Lung UK and professor of respiratory medicine at Imperial College, London.

“So if you are stuck in traffic, your air quality is bad. It is better to be actively traveling if you can – walking, cycling or using low-emission public transport.”

7. Consider potential damage at every age

“Lung development starts in the womb and growth continues until around the mid-20s,” says MeiLan K Han, professor of medicine at the University of Michigan Health …


- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -


- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -