Air pollution linked to high risk of oral cancer: Study

You may be wrong if you still believe that oral cancer is only caused by smoking, tobacco use, liquor and betel nut. Because a recent study in Taiwan says that air pollution too could lead to a high risk of oral cancer.
The study, published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine, has literally turned the tables on the conventional wisdom we still adhere to when it comes to the causes of oral cancer. Its findings are not what we have believed all along.
It says higher levels of air pollution may also be responsible for the cancer of the lips, tongue, cheeks, mouth and palate. Which means, the air around us is more harmful that we assume with risks more dangerous than only respiratory problems.

Before diving into the study, it’s good to have a look at some numbers –

  • As per the WHO, air pollution causes an estimated 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide per year
  • It also says that, nearly half of around 6,57,000 patients of oral cancer who’re diagnosed annually across the globe with die

Details of the study
The study clearly links higher levels of air pollution to a greater risk of oral cancer. And if it’s to be believed, this calls for more safety measures on part of us in dealing with air pollutant. As per the study, apart from the conventional list of causes, oral cancer may also be caused by the heightened levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone (but to a lesser extent).
We have reasons to believe the findings of the study because it has used a large sample size, and it’s also the first in the world to link oral cancer with PM2.5. The findings may appear to some an attempt to create panic, but they are not an isolated case as there is a growing evidence linking the adverse effects of higher levels of air pollution on human health.
While it’s widely known that PM2.5 is harmful to respiratory and cardiovascular health, our exposures to heavy metals and emissions from petrochemical plants can also lead to the development of the disease. When analysed in this light, we can easily see how air pollution can harm us more than we think.

Some of key things that can be corroborated form the study may include –

  • There is no safe level of air pollution when it comes to our overall health
  • High air pollution is more dangerous can causing a greater risk of the lungs, asthma and dementia
  • The study has collected data from 66 air quality monitoring stations, analysed the health records of more than 4,80,000 men aged 40, and found a 11,617 cases of mouth cancer
  • The study clearly establishes how people who’re exposed to the highest levels of PM2.5 have a greater risk of oral cancer
  • The study has also found that men exposed to higher level of air pollution are 43% more likely to develop oral cancer than those exposed to average level of pollution
  • The study also observed exposure of men to higher ozone levels and found in them a greater risk of developing oral cancer

Clearly, air pollution is now a big menace, something we can’t afford paying lip service to. The time has come when drastic measures needed from governments across the world to reduce emissions and curb carbon in the atmosphere. Only this can lead to a safer world where a quality life can be lived.

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Author Bio:
Irshad Alam is a writer with experience in oral care. He shares information about dental health and treatments. You can benefit form his posts to boost your understanding of things related to dental health. He also advises on teeth braces price, but you must consult only a dentist for more knowledge in this regard.

Dr. Vikram Venkateswaran

Management Thinker, Marketer, Healthcare Professional Communicator and Ideation exponent

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