Pneumonia Risk Factors

01 November 2013

Charlottetown, PE -


Pneumonia Risk Factors

The Canadian Cancer Society, PEI Division wants Islanders to think about how important it is to reduce their risk of developing pneumonia.

“You may not know that if you have a chronic disease or are over the age of 65, you are at risk of serious complications from pneumonia,” says Lori Barker, Executive Director of the Canadian Cancer Society, P.E.I. Division.  “Having cancer, undergoing treatment for cancer or being a smoker increases the risk of getting pneumonia.”

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. Many different germs can cause pneumonia, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, you are at higher risk of pneumonia if you:

  • are a smoker
  • are over age 65
  • have a weak immune system due to cancer, cancer therapy, HIV infection, or other disease
  • have a chronic illness such as lung disease (including asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - COPD), heart disease, or diabetes
  • are physically immobilized following surgery

 A combination of these conditions increases your risk even more. If you have even one of these conditions, you are at higher risk of hospitalization and other complications if you develop pneumonia.

“There are a number of ways to reduce your risk,” says Barker. “Some things are simple, like careful hygiene during times when colds and flus are around.  Another option is getting a vaccination to protect you from pneumonia.  And remember, the most important thing you can do for your health is to quit smoking.” 

The Canadian Cancer Society encourages Islanders to talk to their health care provider about the risks and options especially if you have a chronic disease or condition like cancer.

Actions you can take to reduce your risk of getting pneumonia:

  • wash your hands properly and often; rub your hands with hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  • don't share cups or eating utensils with people who are sick
  • stay away from people who are sick
  • throw away used tissues
  • talk to you doctor or health care provider about vaccines that might help protect you
  • quit smoking -  find help to quit by contacting the Smokers' Helpline at 1-877-513-5333 and online at smokershelpline.ca  or consult a health care professional 

For 75 years the Canadian Cancer Society has been with Canadians in the fight for life. The Cancer Society is committed to preventing cancer, funding research and supporting Canadians touched by cancer. For more information about cancer, visit cancer.ca or call the toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333.


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For more information, contact:

Lori Barker

Canadian Cancer Society, PEI Division