Jan
23
2011

OTHER CAUSES OF LUNG CANCER: ATMOSPHERIC POLLUTION

OTHER CAUSES OF LUNG CANCER: ATMOSPHERIC POLLUTION
Ideas about the cause of lung cancer have been so dominated by recognition of the effect of smoking for the last forty years that it is sometimes easy to forget that there may be other important causal factors and that lung cancer still occurs in non-smokers. The effect of smoking is so strong that it can be quite difficult to unravel other causes, because the presence of a few smokers in any group will so alter the statistics. However, there are undoubtedly other factors at work in the development of lung cancer and many of them can now be judged.
Passive smoking and the effects of asbestos and industrial hazards can act through atmospheric pollution to cause lung cancer. General atmospheric pollution by coal smoke was probably not a very important cause of lung cancer, although it may have contributed to some lung cancers in smokers.
Radon gas is radioactive and is present in some rocks. Certain geological conditions allow it to be released from the soil and, in some parts of the world, it appears to accumulate with its radioactive products in houses. In the United Kingdom this is most apparent in Devon and Cornwall and in parts of Derbyshire where the concentration of radon gas in houses may be much higher than in the country in general. However, lung cancer is not especially common in Cornwall and the whole question of a relationship between radon and lung cancer is now the subject of careful examination. Studies from Scandinavia and the United Scares do suggest that there may be a link between background radon concentrations and lung cancer, and if this is confirmed in Britain, some houses may well nerd specialized ventilation.
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Ideas about the cause of lung cancer have been so dominated by recognition of the effect of smoking for the last forty years that it is sometimes easy to forget that there may be other important causal factors and that lung cancer still occurs in non-smokers. The effect of smoking is so strong that it can be quite difficult to unravel other causes, because the presence of a few smokers in any group will so alter the statistics. However, there are undoubtedly other factors at work in the development of lung cancer and many of them can now be judged.

Passive smoking and the effects of asbestos and industrial hazards can act through atmospheric pollution to cause lung cancer. General atmospheric pollution by coal smoke was probably not a very important cause of lung cancer, although it may have contributed to some lung cancers in smokers.

Radon gas is radioactive and is present in some rocks. Certain geological conditions allow it to be released from the soil and, in some parts of the world, it appears to accumulate with its radioactive products in houses. In the United Kingdom this is most apparent in Devon and Cornwall and in parts of Derbyshire where the concentration of radon gas in houses may be much higher than in the country in general. However, lung cancer is not especially common in Cornwall and the whole question of a relationship between radon and lung cancer is now the subject of careful examination. Studies from Scandinavia and the United Scares do suggest that there may be a link between background radon concentrations and lung cancer, and if this is confirmed in Britain, some houses may well nerd specialized ventilation.

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