Conducted by lead researcher Sandrah Eckel, the study, which was published in the journal Thorax,encompassed data compiled from over 352,000 individuals with lung cancer in California between the years of 1988 and 2009.
The study indicated that an increased exposure to air pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and airborne particles, was correlated with an increase risk of premature death. The strongest correlation was observed in patients with early stage lung cancer, principally adenocarcinoma. According to the researchers, adenocarcinoma accounts for about 80% of all cases of lung cancer.
It was found that patients with in the early stage of the disease who had a greater exposure to these particular pollutants survived an average of 2.4 years in comparison to the average of 5.7 years for individuals with lower exposure.
Despite these astounding numbers, no conclusions can be drawn regarding the cause and effect, as this was an observational study according to the researchers. However, the researchers pointed out that the International Agency for Research on Cancer does indeed classify air pollutants as cancer-causing agents.
Although the results do not create a definitive conclusion, the study does highlight and create convincing evidence that air pollutants could be a possible target for future lung cancer prevention studies. According to Dr. Jaime Hart, an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, these studies can shed light on the potential to increase lung cancer survival.
Written by Melissa Pillote
Eckel, S.P., Cockburn, M., Shu, Y., Deng, H., Lurmann, F.W., Liu, L., & Gilliland, F.D. (2016 Aug 4). Air pollution affects lung cancer survival. Thorax, DOI: doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2015-207927
(2016 Aug 5). Smog May Shorten Lives of Lung Cancer Patients. Retrieved from http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=197530
DoveMed Reference(2016 Apr 13). Lung Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.dovemed.com/lung-cancer/