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Eat Well, Live Well, Age Well: Lung Health

The podcast "Eat Well, Live Well, Age Well" recently spoke with Peter Chen, MD, assistant director of the Women's Guild Lung Institute and director of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Cedars-Sinai, about preserving lung health.

Chen explained that keeping up with annual screenings and avoiding airborne pollutants are important to maintaining healthy airways.

"The best thing we can do is to minimize the harm we do," Chen told podcast host Patricia Greenberg. "If you're breathing in anything other than air, it's probably not good for your lungs."

Small particles from air pollution, wildfire smoke, cigarette smoking and vaping can all do harm. Larger particles are trapped in mucus produced by the lungs, then swept into the throat to be swallowed or cleared out when we cough. But smaller particles can work their way into lung tissue and cause lasting damage.

Chen advised staying indoors when the air-quality index is poor or wildfires are burning nearby—surgical and cloth masks cannot filter out these particles. He also cleared up the myth that lungs can recover from damage caused by smoking. They simply can't.

"When you smoke, particulates deposit in your lungs, and we just can't get rid of them," Chen told Greenberg.

Chen recommended that anyone over age 50, who has smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years or more and quit within the past 15 years, have annual CT scans for three years to check for signs of lung cancer.

Click here to listen to the complete episode from "Eat Well, Live Well, Age Well."