"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Study: Air pollution can increase the chance of varied kinds of cancer

August 8, 2023 – A Harvard study says that air pollution could increase the chance of developing colon and prostate cancer. Even low levels of Air pollution Exposure could make people particularly vulnerable to those cancers, in addition to breast and uterine cancer.

Researchers on the TH Chan School of Public Health examined the medical records of thousands and thousands of people that received Medicare advantages between 2000 and 2016. They found that long-term exposure to superb particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) increases the chance of cancer.

Air pollution has already been shown to be linked to lung cancer, but few studies have examined the link with these other types, in line with one Press release from Harvard.

“Our results demonstrate the biological plausibility of air pollution as a critical risk factor for the development of certain cancers and bring us one step closer to understanding the impact of air pollution on human health,” said Dr. Yaguang Wei, research fellow within the Department of Environmental Health within the press release. “To ensure equitable access to clean air for all populations, we must fully define the impacts of air pollution and then work to reduce them.”

According to Harvard, chronic exposure to PM2.5 and NO2 increased the chance of colon and prostate cancer, but was not related to the chance of uterine cancer. “For breast cancer, exposure to NO2 was associated with a lower risk, while the association for PM2.5 was inconclusive.”

The study was published in Environmental epidemiology.

“The bottom line is that U.S. air pollution standards are not sufficient to protect public health,” said Joel Schwartz, professor of environmental epidemiology and lead creator. “The Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed stricter standards for PM2.5, but their proposal does not go far enough in regulating this pollutant. Current NO2 standards are also woefully inadequate. Unless all of these standards become much, much stricter, air pollution will continue to cause thousands of unnecessary cases of multiple cancers each year.”