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Oral cancer link to pollution

Thursday October 11th, 2018

An increased risk of oral cancer has been found among people exposed to high concentrations of fine particulate matter.

It is already known that exposure to fine particulate matter (called PM2.5) is linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer.

Professor Shou-Jen Lan of Asia University in Taiwan, and colleagues report that the rate of oral cancer among Taiwanese men is increasing and is likely to be partly due to betel quid chewing, smoking, and drinking. So they set out to examine a possible link to oral cancer.

They used information from four databases and registries on exposure to sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, coarse particulate matter and PM2.5, among 482,659 men aged 40 years and above.

Analysis suggested that the risk of oral cancer was raised by 43% with exposure to PM2.5. Exposure to ozone also appeared to be linked to a heightened risk of developing oral cancer.

As expected, smoking and frequent betel quid chewing were significantly associated with heightened risk of a diagnosis.

In the Journal of Investigative Medicine today (10 October) the team write: "When compared with levels below 26.74 ug/m3, those above 40.37 ug/m3 were associated with a 43% heightened risk of a mouth cancer diagnosis.

"This study, with a large sample size, is the first to associate oral cancer with PM2.5. These findings add to the growing evidence on the adverse effects of PM2.5 on human health."

They state that these results provide "increased knowledge regarding fine particulate pollution as a risk factor for oral cancer". They add: "This study indicates the need for further research to investigate the association between oral cancer and PM2.5, including lower exposure levels."

Chu, Y-H. et al. Association between fine particulate matter and oral cancer among Taiwanese men. Journal of Investigative Medicine 10 October 2018; doi: 10.1136/jim-2016-000263

Tags: Asia | Cancer | Drug & Alcohol Abuse

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