We all know that air pollution is bad, so bad that it kills thousands of people each year. In India alone according to a Washington Post article published last month, about half a million people die every year due to outdoor air pollution.
With that introductory paragraph, here’s a finding of a new study that may not surprise a lot of you readers: people with lung cancer may have shorter survival times when exposed to smog and other air pollutants.
As reported at The Guardian, researchers in the state of California have found that exposure to bad air quality after lung cancer diagnosis can negatively affect survival. The paper was published in the journal Thorax with lead author Sandrah P. Eckel, PhD of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
The main takeaway of the research is that the length of time that people with lung cancer live after diagnosis varies depending on their exposure to air pollution. Researchers claim that the median survival for people diagnosed with early stage of lung cancers who were in areas with high levels of regional pollution was about three years shorter than people who lived in places with lower pollution levels.
In an interview with the University of Southern California website, Dr. Eckel explains that their research focused on California, and the reason is that the state has a wide range of air pollution levels. It also has one of the largest and longest running air quality monitoring networks and cancer registry system in the country.
Looking at the lung cancer data with over three-hundred and fifty thousand patients registered between the years 1988 to 2009, the team has found that patients in areas with higher levels of fine particulate matter–or, at about 2.5 micrometers in diameter–was only about two point four years, compared to five point seven years in patients in areas with lower levels of fine particulate matter.
It is also worth noting that lung cancer patients whose cancer had spread to other parts of their bodies had shorter survival times overall. They also showed little difference in survival time whether they lived in places with high or low air pollution levels.
And like other research, the team clarifies that additional research is needed to determine the link between air pollution and survival rates of lung cancer patients. However, the findings are intriguing, the team says, and they suggest that newly diagnosed lung cancer patients must consider moving out of places with high levels of air pollution.
Lung Cancer in America
A recently updated page of the CDC–or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention–says that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in America, and the second most common among both women and men.
The American health institute suggests avoiding smoking and secondhand smoke, and avoid places with radon, a naturally occurring gas from rocks and dirt.