Lung Cancer Risk Rises in Industrial Zones

U.K. study found proximity to industry doubled women's risk

THURSDAY, Sept. 28, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Living next to heavy industry may boost lung cancer risk, suggests new research.

In the study, researchers in New Zealand and the U.K. compared more than 200 women with primary lung cancer and 339 healthy women. All the women lived in Teeside in northeast England, an area with especially high rates of lung cancer among women.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, heavy industry expanded rapidly in this area, and poverty and deprivation were common. By 1945, the town of Billingham on Teeside was the site of the largest chemical production complex in the world.

Overall, the women in the study had lived in the area for an average of 55 years.

The women were interviewed about their lives, including where they had lived and worked, smoking habits, and exposure to secondhand smoke. Home distances from heavy industry sites were divided into three zones: less than 5 kilometers away (Zone A); 5 to 10 kilometers away (Zone B); and more than 10 kilometers away (Zone C).

After accounting for other potential risk factors (such as smoking), the researchers concluded that women who lived in Zone A for more than 25 years were nearly twice as likely to develop lung cancer as women who didn't live in that zone.

Reporting in the journal Thorax, the study authors said their findings were consistent with previous studies and that more research needs to be done on the link between air pollution and lung cancer.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about air pollution and health.

SOURCE: BMJ Specialist Journals, news release, Sept. 28 2006
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