The connection of air pollution to lung cancer

It is widely known that smoking increases your risk of lung cancer. However, that is not the only risk factor. A study by Oregon State University suggests that reducing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) may lower levels of lung cancer deaths. PAHs enter the air mostly as...

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It is widely known that smoking increases your risk of lung cancer. However, that is not the only risk factor.

A study by Oregon State University suggests that reducing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) may lower levels of lung cancer deaths. PAHs enter the air mostly as releases from volcanoes, forest fires, burning coal, and automobile exhaust. Also, PAHs enter water through discharges from industrial and wastewater treatment plants, so, it is important to avoid drinking contaminated water.

High emissions of  PAHs can be linked to lung cancer deaths in the United States and countries with a similarly high socioeconomic rank, including Canada, Australia, France, and Germany, according to a study by Oregon State University. In order to avoid these pollutants, you could stay away from cigarette smoke, wood smoke, vehicle exhausts, asphalt roads, or agricultural burn smoke.

Furthermore, researchers reviewed a range of information from 136 countries, including average body mass index, gross domestic product per capita, the price of cigarettes, smoking rates, and the amount of PAHs emitted into the air. While the link between smoking and lung cancer is well-established, surprisingly, researchers did not find a correlation between cigarette smoking rates and lung cancer death rates in countries with high levels of income. Researchers attribute this conclusion to previous studies showing high-income smokers tend to light up less often.

OSU’s study also suggests that reducing smoking rates could significantly lessen lung cancer deaths in countries with a lower socioeconomic status, including North Korea, Nepal, Mongolia, Cambodia, Bangladesh and many others. Researchers found that lung cancer mortality rates in these countries negatively correlated with price — meaning cheaper cigarettes are often associated with higher levels of deaths from lung cancer.

Unfortunately, detectable lung cancer can take 20 years to develop, and the poorest countries in the study had an average age of death of 54. OSU researchers suggest heavy smokers in these countries can sometimes die before tumors attributable to lung cancer become apparent.

See more at:

Agency for Toxic Substance & Disease Registry.

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