Recent Cancer Studies Prompt AACR to Renew Calls for Public Health Protection
The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) renewed calls for governments to implement programs aimed at protecting public health against cancer risks. The AACR reports that a new study supports previous findings linking pollution to increased mortality rates among sufferers afflicted by other types of cancer affecting the pancreas, breasts and liver.
The new study actually follows the 2013 review performed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which found sufficient evidence that outdoor pollution can cause cancer. In line with the AACR’s call, this article cites South Korea as one several countries that have taken action by implementing programs to reduce the country’s cancer burden.
Findings of the New Cancer Study
Epidemiology expert at the University of Birmingham G. Neil Thomas, MPhil, PhD, and University of Hong Kong scientist, Dr. Thuan Quoc Thach, PhD, conducted studies in both of their respective countries. The two experts observed long-term exposure to ambient fine particulate matter, originating from transportation and power generation-related environmental pollutants. Ambient fine particulate matter is also known as PM2.5 for having an aerodynamic diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers.
The findings of the UK and HK studies revealed that for every 10 microgram per cubic meter of increased exposure to the ambient fine particulate matter, the following have been established:
- Increased risk of mortality rate by 22% from any type of cancer;
- 42% rise of risk of dying from cancer affecting the upper digestive tract;
- 42% increase in mortality rate for those who suffer from cancers of digestive accessory organs such as liver, gall bladder, bile ducts and pancreas;
- The mortality risk for breast cancer is higher by 80% and
- 36% higher mortality risk for lung cancer patients.
Researchers’ Explanations for the Increased Association Between Air Pollution and Cancer Diseases
The authors of the study said there are several possible explanations for the increased association between cancer and air pollution. That includes how air pollution can ignite defects in DNA repair, which cause changes in one’s immune response; or cause inflammation that trigger angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the growth of new blood vessels that enable tumors to spread throughout the human body.
In cases where the cancer spreads in the digestive organs, air pollution can impact the production of cancer-promoting gut microbiota.
Still, Dr. Thach emphasized that PM2.5 and its presence in air pollution is only one of the risk factors of cancer. Other risk factors that could have greater impact that requires modification are diet and exercise.
How South Korea is Addressing the Country’s Cancer Burden
A new study in South Korea sought to gather information about the expected cancer incidence and mortality for 2020 as a way to have an estimation of the country’s cancer burden.
Last year, it was expected that there would be 80,546 cancer-related deaths and 243,263 additional cancer cases. Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer resulting the most number of deaths, followed by cancers of the liver, pancreas, colon and stomach.
However, it was concluded in the study that all types of cancer incident rates are expected to lessen gradually. The information indicated the important resources and actions proven useful in planning, and evaluating cancer-control programs of the Korean government.
This Southeast Asain country has made reducing cancer burden as one of its major political issues, especially with the nation’s quickly aging population. Examples of South Korea’s major national cancer control programs include the following:
1. R&D activities for cancer control; training and education for cancer prevention and control;
2. Anti-smoking campaigns;
3. Hepatitis B virus vaccination;
4. Cancer registration and networking.
We also noted that one particular 전자제품추천 (home appliance) that South Korean families use in their homes are air purifiers. After all, studies have shown that due to numerous and various particulate matters trapped inside homes, indoor air is 5 times more polluted than outdoor air.