The fact that pollution leads to the onset of deadly diseases is not a new theory. Now, new research reinforces the idea, showing a strong connection between environmental quality and the overall risk of developing a form of cancer. Scientists found that people living in areas where the total exposure to harmful pollutants is bigger have higher chances of dying of cancer than those who come into contact with less polluting agents.
The Air We Breathe is Carcinogenic
Several previous studies showed that there is a connection between an increased risk of developing a type of cancer and an individual pollutant. This new research, however, focused on showing the combined effects of pollution exposure on cancer risks. To test their theory, researchers examined the annual rate for cancer diagnosis. In the US, the average rate is 451 cases for every 100,000 people.
The scientists looked at each county in the US to see if pollution exposure had anything to do with a higher risk of cancer. They observed that in the counties that had a bigger rate of pollution, the cancer risk was higher. For instance, in the counties where pollution exposure was larger than the average, there were 39 more cases of cancer diagnosed for every 100,000 people.
“We found that counties with poor overall environmental quality experienced higher cancer incidence than those counties with good overall environmental quality,” stated the study
Researchers measured the pollutants exposure between 2000 and 2005 and looked for data on cancer cases newly diagnosed between 2006 and 2010. Results showed cancer is responsible for 1 in 4 deaths every year in the US.
Men Are More Likely to Develop Cancer than Women
This research showed that men are more likely to be influenced by the environment when it comes to cancer risk. For instance, in counties with bigger pollution exposure, the scientists found 33 more cases of males diagnosed with cancer for every 100,000 people. When it came to women living in these counties, the number of cases increased with 30 cases for every 100,000 females.
After they had looked for the overall cancer risk, the scientists made separate tests for the most common types of cancer: prostate, breast, lung, and colorectal. They observed that breast and prostate tumors were influenced more by pollution exposure than all other cancer types. The biggest limitation of the research is that it was conducted over a small period of time, an exhaustive study needing more data.
Image source: Wikipedia