Pollution causes lung cancer especially those who have never smoked

from Vera Martinella

A new British study highlights the mechanisms triggered by fine particles that trigger genetic mutations and can lead to the formation of a neoplasm

That among the many health damage caused by smog there were also tumors is unfortunately not a novelty: since 2013 air pollution in general and atmospheric particulate matter (i.e. the so-called fine particles) are listed among the certain carcinogens for human beings by the highest authority on the subject, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of Lyon, the agency of the World Health Organization. Now it seems that the costs could be in a particular way the lungs of non-smokers that they appear to be at increased risk of lung cancer non-small cell, the most common form of respiratory cancer. what emerges from a new study presented during the congress of the European Society of Oncology (European Society for Medical Oncology – Esmo) underway in Paris: a team of British researchers has in fact identified several mechanisms that seem to favor the formation of a neoplasm in people who they have never lit a cigarette.

The deadliest cancer in Italy

Environmental pollution (particularly atmospheric pollution) includes various carcinogenic substances

coming from human activities (vehicular traffic, industries, domestic heating) or from natural sources (ionizing radiation, ultraviolet rays) and it is estimated that in Italy it is responsible for about 5 cases of cancer out of 100. Lung cancer is still the deadliest cancer in Italy today and, with 41 thousand new cases a year, one of the most frequent – he recalls Silvia Novello, Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Turin, head of Pulmonary Oncology at the “San Luigi Gonzaga” of Orbassano -. To prevent it because it would be enough not to smoke, since 85% of cases are due to tobacco, even if one in five cases concerns non-smokers.

Causes of cancer in non-smokers

Statistics indicate that around 15-20% of people who get sick do not smoke. How come? the carcinogenic role of radon, asbestos or asbestos, heavy metals (such as chromium, cadmium and arsenic) and ofair pollution – comments Novello, who is also president of WALCE Onlus (Women against lung cancer in Europe) -. And the role of second-hand smoke is still too underestimated, which instead raises the danger: in Italy there are still many passive smokers, a very serious fact especially for children. Then the experts have been trying for years to ask DNA for answers and the survey presented by scholars from the Francis Crick Institute and the University College of London, supported by Cancer Research UK, also goes in this direction. The conclusions of their work indicate, in fact, that cells with mutations in the EGFR and KRAS genes can become cancerous when they come into constant and prolonged contact with air pollution.

The new study

The same polluting particles found in the air and deriving from fossil fuels that are causing disastrous climate change also have an impact on the health of human beings. Charles Swanton, lead author of the research presented at the Esmo 2022 conference -. Our data are based on both human and laboratory investigations and show that the increase in exposure to fine particles (particulate matter 2.5) is linked to an increased risk of non-small cell lung cancer with genetic mutation of the EGFR gene. British scientists both analyzed data on nearly 464,000 non-smoking people living in England, Taiwan and South Korea, and studied the effects of smog on healthy lung tissue samples in the laboratory. Thus it emerged that PM 2,5 powders favor the establishment of mechanisms that can lead to the cancerous transformation of lung cells that have the mutation of the EGFR and KRAS genes. Scientific research has also made it possible to understand that each mutation of the DNA and of the genes involved makes each tumor unique – concludes Novello -: ALK, EGFR, KRAS, BRAF, ROS, RET, MET seem incomprehensible acronyms, which instead have a decisive value for the sick. These are the names of the genes that play a decisive role in lung cancer and it is precisely in the presence of these “acronyms” that new drugs can now be used, which have opened up hopes that were unimaginable until a few years ago.

September 10, 2022 (change September 10, 2022 | 08:33)

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Pollution causes lung cancer especially those who have never smoked

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