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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Lung Cancer Awareness Month: How air pollution affects our health

Pollutants do not just cause cancer, they are also proven to cause increased cardiovascular/ischaemic heart disease leading to heart attacks and strokes, increased mortality among infants and children, increased asthma and COPD

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
November 23, 2021 10:50:48 am
Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2021, air pollution, pollution and lungs, how pollution harms the lungs, indian express newsParticulate pollution is a tiny particle that comprises acids, organic chemicals, metals, soil and dust. (File)

In the northern parts of the country, winter is usually synonymous with pollution. There is a thick blanket of smog (smoke and fog) which engulfs many cities. Prolonged exposure to smog can cause many health issues, and this Lung Cancer Awareness Month we look at how pollution particularly affects lungs.

Dr Niti Raizada, director, medical oncology and hemato-oncology at Fortis La Femme Hospital, Richmond Road, Bengaluru, says we generally associate lung cancer with tobacco smoking.

“Particulate pollution is a tiny particle that comprises acids, organic chemicals, metals, soil and dust. The ultra fine particles not only wade through the lungs, they can also easily enter our bloodstream and cause harm. These are mixtures of solid and liquid that are emitted largely by vehicles (nitrates), power plants, industries (sulphur dioxide). It can also be natural environmental (radon). Essentially, the air may appear clean as we cannot see these particles, but they all cause cancer,” the doctor explains.

According to her, these pollutants do not just cause cancer, they are also “proven to cause increased cardiovascular/ischaemic heart disease leading to heart attacks and strokes, increased mortality among infants and children, increased asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)”.

Dr Raizada warns that one does not need years and decades of exposure to get lung cancer, even short term exposure to high quantities is known to trigger the mutations causing lung cancer.

So, what steps can be taken to tackle this?

“We may not be able to get away from the pollution of big cities, but when we go outside for exercise, it is wiser to stay away from paths on which there are polluting vehicles. It is better to choose a park. Similarly, look out for sources of pollution like burning of fossil fuel stoves, diesel generator fumes, and ensure all safety measures for the fumes are properly channeled out through the exhausts much above the height of the buildings,” the doctor advises.

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📣 The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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