Risk and protective factors

There are several risk and protective factors that impact respiratory health. Risk and protective factors can be genetic, related to lifestyle or environmental factors. While genetic factors cannot be changed, those relating to behaviour, lifestyle and some environmental factors can be altered to reduce the risk of people getting respiratory diseases.

The most important risk factor is smoking tobacco; not smoking, or reducing the amount that people smoke, is the most significant way to avoid respiratory conditions like lung cancer [32052][18495]. This includes passive smoking, which is particularly bad for children.

To reduce the risk of getting respiratory conditions, people should also:

  • maintain a healthy bodyweight
  • be physically active
  • drink alcohol in moderation [18495].

Infectious diseases and some chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease also increase the risk of respiratory conditions [18495].

Environmental risk factors include:

  • poor environmental conditions that are dusty or have lots of pollen or pollution
  • exposure to gases, fumes or chemicals in the workplace [32052][18495].

References

Key resources

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Artwork

Bardil by Hughie Brent

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