Scientists have found that exposure to a common type of air pollution over a long period of time can increase a person’s risk of developing cancer.
Their study, published in the journal, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, aimed to learn more about the health impacts of breathing in particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) on a long-term basis. PM2.5 is a common type of air pollutant emitted by diesel vehicles and the burning of fuels that can have a range of negative effects on the health, and especially the lungs.
Researchers recruited 66,280 people in Hong Kong who were aged 65 or older between 1998 and 2001 when the project started.
Annual concentrations of air quality around each participant’s home was estimated using satellite data and fixed site monitors from the start of the study until 2011. To look at the potential health impacts of this type of pollution, the researchers checked public records for causes of death.
After excluding people that smoked and had other pre-existing health conditions, the researchers found that higher levels of exposure to PM2.5 were associated with an increased risk of dying from any type of cancer.
Following these findings, the researchers recommend that similar studies be carried out in other countries to see if this link is universal.
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