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Nanoparticle air pollution first linked to brain cancer
An increase in pollution of 10,000 nanoparticles per cubic centimeter per year (the approximate difference between quiet and busy city streets) in the study increased the risk of brain cancer by more than 10%.
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A new study by Canadian scientists from McGill University, published in Epidemiology, has found for the first time a link between air pollution by nanoparticles (ultra-fine particles produced by burning fuel) and brain cancer.
“Environmental risks such as air pollution are not so great - their importance is explained by the fact that the entire population is at risk. So when these small risks are multiplied by many people, suddenly there are many cases. In a big city, the numbers are becoming significant, especially given the fact that these tumors are often fatal,”said Scott Weichenthal, who led the study.
In 2016, a huge amount of toxic nanoparticles contained in the air was discovered in the human brain. Previous research has shown links between air pollution and brain disturbances, including decreased intelligence, dementia, and mental health problems in both adults and children.
The WHO calls air pollution a "silent public health emergency." Air pollution has the potential to harm every organ and virtually every cell in the human body, according to a comprehensive global survey published in February 2019.
A new study found that an increase in pollution of 10,000 nanoparticles per cubic centimeter per year (the approximate difference between quiet and busy city streets) increased the risk of developing brain cancer by more than 10%.
The researchers analyzed the medical records of 1.9 million Canadian adults between 1991 and 2016, and measured pollution levels in Toronto and Montreal over three years. Potentially influencing factors were also taken into account - income level, smoking, obesity and relocation.
The pollution level in different areas of the cities varied from 6000 / cm³ to 97000 / cm³. Scientists have calculated that a pollution of 50,000 / cm³ increases the risk of brain cancer by 50% (compared to 15,000 / cm³).
The study was observational, so no causation was implied. The correlation between brain cancer and nanoparticles was “remarkably consistent,” but further research is needed, the scientists said.
“We don't know too much about the causes of brain tumors, so any environmental factors that can be identified help improve understanding,” Weischenthal said.
Researchers believe that this situation is typical for all major cities. They recommend avoiding heavily polluted streets when walking and cycling.
“At the individual level, it is always good to reduce exposure to pollutants. But more important is the work at the normative level, where actions should be taken that will reduce the risk for all,”concluded Weischenthal.