Exposures to fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide were associated with increased risks for colorectal and prostate cancer in older adults
By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter
THURSDAY, Aug. 10, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Outdoor air pollution is tied to a higher risk for nonlung cancers in older adults, according to a study published online Aug. 1 in Environmental Epidemiology.
Yaguang Wei, Ph.D., from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues examined associations of 10-year exposures to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) with risks for breast, prostate, colorectal, and endometrial cancers. The analysis included 2.2 to 6.5 million Medicare beneficiaries for each cancer type (2000 to 2016).
The researchers found that exposures to PM2.5 and NO2 were associated with increased risks for colorectal and prostate cancers but were not associated with endometrial cancer risk. For breast cancer, NO2 was associated with a decreased risk, while the association for PM2.5 was inconclusive. Even at exposure levels below the new World Health Organization Air Quality Guideline, substantially larger associations were seen between most exposures and risks for all cancers, translating to hundreds to thousands of new cancer cases per year per unit increase in each exposure.
“The key message here is that U.S. air pollution standards are inadequate in protecting public health,” senior author Joel Schwartz, Ph.D., also of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a statement. “Unless all of these standards become much, much stricter, air pollution will continue to result in thousands of unnecessary cases of multiple cancers each year.”
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