Research reveals major lung cancer risk factor (HINT: It’s NOT smoking!)

I’ve always said theres much more to lung cancer than just smoking. In fact, most people today who develop lung cancer are never-smokers or quit smoking long ago. 

Case in point: Researchers just uncovered a major risk factor for lung cancer that you’ve probably never heard aboutThis factor also seems to be associated with more aggressive lung cancer tumors. And it has nothing to do with smoking! 

I’ll tell you all about that surprising risk factor and the new study in just a moment. But first, let’s back up to explore why lung cancer victims have gotten the short shrift from mainstream medicine for so long 

40-year-old bias against smokers still drives treatments and policy 

When I first started medical school, lung cancer was the No. 1 cause of cancer death in America. And today, nearly 40 years later, that still holds true. 

In fact, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that nearly 135,000 people will die from lung cancer this year. That’s almost triple the death rate of colon cancer—the second-highest cancer killer. 

In my view, this lack of progress is a direct result of one fatally flawed, politically driven decision made at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) when I was working there as a young research investigator nearly 40 years ago. 

At the time, I was researching the connections between diet and all types of cancer. Then, one day in 1984, I was called into a meeting with one of our new deputy directors who told us they’d decided that smoking was the one and only cause of lung cancer (despite plenty of science to the contrary). So, henceforth, almost all NCI funding for lung cancer research would be redirected only to smoking cessation and prevention programs. 

As a consequence, they dropped funding and research into the biology and genetics of cancer. (Remember, we always knew that some people are simply more genetically susceptible to lung cancer.) 

They also dropped funding and research into other causes of lung diseases, such as air pollution, prescription drugs, and even sugar. Worst of all, they even dropped funding and research into new screenings and treatments! 

Instead, they poured almost everything into trendy “behavioral modification” programs. (They pushed these programs on everyone, not just on those at risk of developing lung cancer.) They also strongly influenced public policy with their flawed views and bad science—and succeeded in banning smoking in public places due to the trumped up fear of “second-hand” smoke (as I detailed in a Daily Dispatch last week). 

Looking back now, they should have seen it coming. After all, a new deputy director had a Ph.D. in psychology and behavioral science. So, of course, he’d turn lung cancer into a “behavioral” problem that lays blame on the victim! 

Now, let’s get back to the new study I mentioned at the beginning of this Dispatch 

Your microbiome affects lung cancer risk 

often write about the gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome. It refers to the environment in your GI tract where healthy bacteria thrive.  

But the skin has a microbiome too. And so do the lungs!  

Basicallyany place on (or in) the body that comes in direct contact with the outside environment has a microbiome. And in all of these microbiomes, the so-called “good” probiotic bacteria help keep out the “bad” bacteria. Which is key, because research shows “bad” bacteria can lead to inflammation, infection, and even diseases like cancer. 

Well, the new study focused on the lung microbiome and its connection to lung cancer. (It’s important to note that both “good” and “bad” bacteria enter the lungs through the mouth and nasal cavity. And there are a lot of places to hide in the lungs. In fact, when laid out flat, tissue from one set of human lungs can cover an entire tennis court! 

Specifically, the researchers analyzed lung tissue samples from 83 patients newly diagnosed with lung cancer. They found that men and women with advanced-stage lung cancer carried more harmful microbes (bacteria) than those with early-stage diseasePlus, they had a poorer prognosis and a greater inflammatory response.  

In particular, a poorer prognosis was associated with the influx of the following microbes: 

  • Veillonella 
  • Prevotella 
  • Streptococcus 

And tumor progression was associated with the influx of:  

  • Veillonella 
  • Prevotella 
  • Streptococcus 
  • Rothia 

In a second phase of their research, the scientists injected these different types of bacteria into mice bred to develop lung cancer…  

As the scientists had expected, the introduction of the bacteria induced a dangerous inflammatory response in the lungs, fed tumor growth, and significantly reduced survival time. 

The researchers said they think testing the lung microbiome for the presence of these harmful bacteria could one day be used as a “biomarker” for lung cancer risk. It could also be used to assess the progression (or regression) of the disease and as a guide to treatment. 

Which is all well and good. We clearly need more research—which takes time.  

But, why wait?  

Protect your lungs from “bad” bacteria—starting today 

Rather than wait for this disease to potentially sneak up on you, here are four important steps you can take, starting today, to protect your lung microbiome 

1.) Avoid antibiotics whenever possibleSince antibiotics wipe out both “bad” and “good” bacteria throughout your body, strive to avoid them entirely, unless they’re absolutely necessary to clear a serious, life-threatening infection. Plus, research now shows you do not need to complete the “full course,” either. In fact, they say you can safely stop taking an antibiotic as soon as you start to feel better. Then, let your immune system do the rest. (Although ignorant medical minions of big pharma in medical practice still insist you finish them all—and take all your little pills.) 

2.) Avoid all foods with added sugar. Like most bacteria, several of the “bad” bacteria pinpointed in the new study feed” on sugar (like cancer itself does)Then, the bacteria make their way into the lungs. (The sugar in the blood could affect the growth of bacteria in the lungs.) So, as always, make sure to strictly avoid all processed foods and foods made with added sugarsInstead, follow a healthy, Mediterranean-type diet filled with fresh, whole foods—including prebiotic foods, which feed the healthy probiotic bacteria in your gut. You can learn more about these important foods in the December 2018 issue of my monthly newsletter, Insiders’ Cures(“WARNING: New research shows probiotic supplements may be doing more harm than good”). I’ll even tell you about more exciting research into prebiotic foods in the upcoming April issue as well. So if you’re not yet a subscriber, be sure to become one today. Click here now!  

3.) Take dental health seriously and get regular dental check-ups. Again, several of the “bad” bacteria pinpointed in the study tend to proliferate in the mouth and beneath your gums. So, make sure to brush your teeth and get dental cleanings regularly to help keep a handle on these “bad” bacteria.   

4.) Get outside in Nature as much as possible. One of the best things you can do to improve breathing and lung health overall is to spend as much time as possible out in Nature. Better yet, seek out places that grow blue-green, yellow, white, and even reddish lichen (what many people call “moss”). Lichen can only grow where the air quality is good, so it’s a sign the air is good to breathe. This is another reason why I often recommend “forest bathing,” too! 

For more about the natural ways to support respiratory health and fight against lung cancer, I also encourage you to check out my Breathe Better Lung Health Protocol. To learn more about this online, comprehensive learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now. 

P.S. Tune back in on Thursday for my report on vitamin D and lung health. You won’t want to miss it! 


Lower Airway Dysbiosis Affects Lung Cancer Progression.” Cancer Discovery, February 2021; 11(2):  

“What Is Veillonella?” Colgate, accessed 2/16/21. (