Research paper links diesel particulates with lung cancer

July 23, 2013



An article published recently in The Lancet Oncology shows that exposure to the particulate matter in diesel fumes and other air pollution increases the risk of lung cancer.

The full article is available for free and there are some highlight passages below:

  • Even in the well known companion textbook for medical doctors, air pollution is not listed as a cause of lung cancer. Although smoking is undoubtedly a strong risk factor, evidence for an association between air pollution exposure and lung cancer is accumulating. While the lung cancer risk associated with air pollution is much lower than that associated with smoking, everybody is exposed to air pollution. Thus, the public health effect is quite large.
  • For example, the WHO estimated that smoking caused 5·1 million deaths and 71% of lung cancer worldwide in 2004, whereas air pollution caused 1·2 million deaths and 8% of lung cancer worldwide in the same year.
  • This very large multicentre study shows an association between exposure to particulate matter air pollution and the incidence of lung cancer, in particular adenocarcinoma, in Europe, adding substantially to the weight of the epidemiological evidence.
  • At this stage, we might have to add air pollution, even at current concentrations, to the list of causes of lung cancer and recognise that air pollution has large effects on public health.

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