Increasing air pollution linked to greater chance of mouth cancer

Названа неожиданная причина рака полости рта

Known risk factors include smoking, drinking, human papilloma virus (HPV), and in parts of South East Asia, the chewing of "paan" - a mix of ingredients wrapped in betel leaf.

The IPPR study highlights the "shocking contribution" domestic wood and coal fires make to the UK's air pollution crisis, which causes 40,000 early deaths a year and devastating health problems for hundreds of thousands of others.

Researchers collected cancer, health and insurance records for more than 480 thousand (482,659) Taiwanese men.

They analyzed the levels of various pollutants, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and sulphur dioxide, measured in 2009 at 66 monitoring stations in Taiwan.

But the team, from Quest Diagnostics Nichols Institute in California, says its findings are the first to link fine air particles to mouth cancer, and that high levels of ozone, the main component of urban smog, may be key. Among them, in the 2012-2013 period, about 1600 cases of oral cancer were diagnosed. Researchers ruled out factors such as age, smoking habits, and betel quid intake.

World Health Organization has warned that annual PM2.5s levels should not be higher than 10 μg/mHowever, multiple cities around the globe exceed this limit including Kabul, Beijing and New Delhi.

When compared with levels below 26.74 microgrammes per cubic metre, those above 40.37 microgrammes per cubic metre, were associated with a 43 per cent heightened risk of a mouth cancer diagnosis.

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A significant association was also observed for ozone levels below 28.69-30.97 parts per billion.

"Given that numerous compounds that comprise overall fine particulate matter are carcinogens, this study raises important questions related to the health effects of pollution, beyond cardiac and respiratory effects", said Moline, vice president of occupational medicine, epidemiology and prevention.

In addition, there are certain limitations to consider such as the absence of data on how much PM2.5 enters the mouth or the length of exposure to the pollutant.

Nor is it clear how air pollutants might contribute to mouth cancer.

This study, with a large sample size, is the first to associate oral cancer with PM2.5 using the aforementioned databases. After adjusting for the potential confounders, higher concentrations of PM2.5 (≥40.37µg/m) were significantly associated with oral cancer in Taiwanese men. "These results are in addition to the growing evidence of the adverse effects of PM2.5 on human health", as they noted.

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