non-lung cancer: As per the study, even low levels of air pollution exposure may make people particularly susceptible to developing these cancers, in addition to breast and endometrial cancers.
Pollution increases non-lung cancer
According to a recent study, chronic exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulate air pollutants (PM2.5) may increase an older person’s risk of developing non-lung cancer. Millions of Medicare recipients were the subject of a study by T. H. Chan School of Public Health and published in Environmental Epidemiology found that exposure to PM2.5 and NO2 over a 10-year period increased the risk of developing colorectal and prostate cancer.
According to the study, people may be especially vulnerable to developing these cancers, in addition to breast and endometrial cancers, when exposed to even low levels of air pollution.
Our findings “uncover the biological plausibility of air pollution as a crucial risk factor in the development of specific cancers, bringing us one step closer to understanding the impact of air pollution on human health,” said Yaguang Wei, research fellow in the Department of Environmental Health.
Few studies have examined how air pollution affects the risk of prostate, colorectal, and endometrial cancers, though a link to breast cancer risk has been suggested and air pollution has been linked to lung cancer risk.
Data from Medicare beneficiaries nationwide who are 65 or older was analyzed by researchers. For at least the first 10 years of the research period, all subjects were cancer-free.
The researchers created a map of PM2.5 and NO2 concentrations across the US using data from various sources related to air pollution.
Results from the national analysis demonstrated that chronic PM2.5 and NO2 exposures raised the risk of colorectal and prostate cancers but did not raise the risk of endometrial cancer.
Exposure to NO2 was linked to a higher risk of breast cancer, whereas PM2.5 exposure was not conclusively linked to an increased risk. Because PM2.5 is a complex mixture of solid and liquid particles, the researchers hypothesized that the mixed associations may be caused by variations in PM2.5’s chemical makeup.
Even areas with supposedly clean air were not immune from the risk of developing cancer, according to the researchers. Even at pollution levels below the most recent World Health Organization recommendations, they discovered significant correlations between exposure to the two pollutants and the risks of all four cancers.
The US Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed stricter standards for PM2.5, but their proposal falls short in terms of controlling this pollutant.
“Also woefully deficient are the current NO2 standards. Air pollution will continue to cause thousands of needless cases of multiple cancers each year unless all of these regulations are made much, much stricter, according to senior study author and environmental epidemiology professor Joel Schwartz.