Air Pollution Tied To Shorter Lung Cancer Survival Rates
Air pollution and exposure to it has been found that could increase risks of lung cancer for several years, but now a new study has take this one step further to suggest it may be linked to a shorter survival rate.
Researchers study the data on over 350,000 Californian residents who had lung cancer, and found that patients that live in areas where air pollution levels were higher than the our average level typically had a shorter survival rate than those that live in communities with moderate to good air quality ratings. According to this data, if you live in an area where air pollution levels are high not only are your chances for contracting the disease increased, but your survival rate is significantly lower.
Sandrah Eckel, a researcher at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles and the lead author of the study believes that people who are diagnosed with the disease, I mean lung cancer, may actually be qualified as a new group of patients that are susceptible and sensitive to the impact air pollution has on their health. This belief is based on the fact that once they are diagnosed with lung cancer air pollution levels can play a role in how long times that they continue to live with the disease.
In the medical journal Thorax the published study notes that lung cancer and its malignancies are responsible for an estimated 1.6 million deaths worldwide annually.
Study researchers tracked concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, ozone and so named particulate matter to determine how that the factor of air pollution is contributing to early deaths in lung cancer patients.
Nitrogen Dioxide is produced by combustible fossil fuels and is more commonly referred to as smog, while ozone produced when industrial and traffic pollution interact with sunlight. Particulate matter is a broad term that is used to describe a collection of solid term particles and liquids, which often includes smoke, soot,dirt and dust.
Studies have already found that these pollutants can damage the people’s lungs by themselves or when they are combined.
Of the patients included in the study over 50 percent resided 1,500 meters from a interstate or freeway, and less than aound 10 percent resided within 300 meters of a busy thoroughfare. This helped to show that air pollution is typically worse around well traveled highways than it is in more rural areas.
The study followed the health outcomes of the California patients who with lung cancer from the year of 1988 to the year of 2009, along with air pollution levels near their households.
The average age of the patients studied was 69 when they were first diagnosed. Over half of these diagnosed were already in advanced stages of the disease where their tumors had already begun to spread.
Researchers found that averagely,they had live 3.6 years for patients diagnosed in the early stages of the disease, but for those whose tumors had already begun to spread by the time the cancer was detected only lived for an average of 4 months.
For those diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, which is one more common form of lung cancer in non smokers, the study found that air pollution levels had the most effect on their survival rate.
Highlighting this observation by study researchers is the fact that patients in the early stages of lung cancer typically survived for another 2.4 years when they were exposed to high levels of particulate matter and on the other hand those with a lower exposure rate where their average survival was estimated at 5.7 years.
The study also noted that early stage lung cancer patients had a at least 30 percent chance of shorter survival rate when there were exposed to nitrogen dioxide, and around more than 26 percent when there were high levels of ozone, and it rose to 38 percent when they were breathing in large amounts of particulate matter.
Researchers did not that there was a limitation associated with the study since they only focused on air pollution levels in the neighborhoods, and not on how long each patient spend breathing outdoors.
Even with this minor limitation the research does add to the evidence that seems to link lung cancer diagnoses and survival rates with air pollution, noted Dr. Jamie Hart,a researcher that from Brigham in an accompanying article.
In an email Dr. Hart noted that studies have already shown that inflammation and oxidated stress can be caused by high levels of pollutants in the air, so it only makes sense that it would also affect survival rates in the patients of lung cancer.
When all of this information is considered Dr. Hart suggest that patients diagnosed with lung cancer should try to reduce exposure to air pollution, along with making other positive lifestyle changes.