Sep 12, 2022 - Health

Scientists find air pollution link to lung cancer

Illustration of a stethoscope in the shape of a pair of lungs
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Researchers identified a mechanism for how air pollution can trigger lung cancer in people who've never smoked, according to a study presented at a major oncology conference on Saturday.

Why it matters: Poor air quality was attributed to more than 250,000 lung cancer deaths around the world in 2019. Warming temperatures from climate change are expected to worsen air quality.

  • The study, conducted at the Francis Crick Institute and University College London, could help researchers find better ways to prevent and treat lung cancer in people who've never smoked, they said at ESMO 2022 (European Society for Medical Oncology).

What they're saying: "The same particles in the air that derive from the combustion of fossil fuels, exacerbating climate change, are directly impacting human health via an important and previously overlooked cancer-causing mechanism in lung cells," said Charles Swanton, lead author from Francis Crick Institute, in a statement.

  • "The risk of lung cancer from air pollution is lower than from smoking, but we have no control over what we all breathe," he said.
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