Oncologists have expressed concern over the sharp rise in cases of lung cancer in metropolitan cities all over the country.
Many renowned oncologists were in attendance at a programme dedicated to the month long awareness campaign against lung cancer, here on Monday.
Doctors said that till recently it was thought that smoking was the most important contributor to lung cancer. However, recent research on lung cancer has shown that environmental pollution in metros
is in fact the primary cause of lung cancer.
“So far, smoking was considered the most significant risk factor for lung cancer. In fact, it had been estimated that 80 per cent of cases of lung cancers are caused due to exposure to tobacco smoke, either direct or passive. However, people living in major metro cities, burdened by extreme vehicular pollution, their lungs are exposed to bad air which is equivalent to smoking several cigarettes a day,” said Dr PN Mohapatra, consultant medical oncologist, Apollo Gleneagles hospital.
It may be mentioned here that The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has already declared ‘outdoor air pollution’ as a carcinogen. The Global Burden of Disease Project, 2010, attributed an estimated 3.2 million deaths worldwide to air pollution, including 2,23,000 to lung cancer.
In 2013, an IARC supported expert panel concluded that there was enough evidence to say that outdoor air pollution can cause cancer in people. The risk depends on the level of air pollution people are regularly exposed to.
According to a study published in the journal of the American Medical Association, a mere increase of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of particulate matter in the air can increase chances of lung cancer by eight per cent.
The doctors said that the Centre as well as all state governments should come forward to control air pollution. “No movement is possible without political support and all the political parties should come together to combat the menace of air pollution, failing which the metros in India will face unmitigated disaster within a decade,” the doctors said.
Dr Deepak Dabkara, consultant oncologist, Tata Medical Centre said: “Clinical evidence suggests that as compared to 20 years back, not only have incidence of lung cancers increases substantially, but numbers of non-smokers reporting with the disease has also increased by almost 10 per cent.”