Health + Wellness

Could Air Pollution Give You Lung Cancer?

air pollution lung cancer

Lung cancer can affect anyone; however, smoking is responsible for the vast majority (approximately 90%) of cases. The second-largest cause of lung cancer is exposure to radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas. Lung cancer can also be caused by air pollution, which introduces dangerous compounds into the atmosphere. 

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) formally labeled outdoor air pollution a Group 1 carcinogen in 2013.

Particulate matter, commonly known as “particle pollution,” was found to be most closely linked to an elevated risk of cancer. Particle pollution is the presence of microscopic solid and liquid particles in the air we breathe.

How Can Air Pollution Contribute to Lung Cancer?

Breathing in tiny particles discharged into the air can cause cancer over time. Small particles might become lodged in the lungs. A buildup of these particles can harm the cells of the lungs, causing inflammation.

Long-term inflammation can create alterations in how these cells multiply.

Long-term exposure to air pollution may induce DNA damage, mutations, and altered gene expression, according to a 2014 study. These alterations may promote the uncontrollable growth of lung cells.

According to research, air pollution has also been linked to other health issues, such as: 

  • Bladder cancer.
  • Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Lung infections
  • Coronary artery disease

RELATED: Air Pollution & Your Diet: 5 Foods That Help You Breathe Easier

Which Contaminants in the Air Cause Lung Cancer?

Air pollution is a complicated mixture of particulate matter and gases emitted by industrial and commercial activity, as well as various modes of transportation such as buses, trains, airplanes, and automobiles.

A variety of air contaminants have been related to cancer. However, the WHO states that particulate matter (PM) from trusted sources is more directly connected with cancer. Particulate matter is a mixture of microscopic solid and

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