Study shows air pollution’s role in lung cancer cases
NEW YORK - Reuters
A study shows air pollution is an alarming cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. REUTERS photoPeople who have never smoked, but who live in areas with higher air pollution levels, are roughly 20 percent more likely to die from lung cancer than people who live with cleaner air, according to researchers in a new study.
“It’s another argument for why the regulatory levels [for air pollutants] should be as low as possible,” said Francine Laden, professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, who was not involved in the new study.
Although smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer, about one in 10 people who develop lung cancer have never smoked.
“Lung cancer in ‘never smokers’ is an important cancer. It’s the sixth leading cause of cancer in the U.S.,” said Michelle Turner, the lead author of the study. Previous estimates of how many non-smokers get lung cancer range from 14 to 21 out of every 100,000 women and five to 14 out of every 100,000 men.
The fine particles in air pollution, which can irritate the lungs and cause inflammation, are thought to be a risk factor for lung cancer, but researchers had not clearly separated their impact from that of smoking.In this study, Turner and her colleagues followed more than 180,000 non-smokers for 26 years.