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Three years of breathing polluted air increases risk of lung cancer

Just three years of breathing polluted air can increase a person’s risk of lung cancer, a study has found.

Scientists have found, for the first time, the mechanism that proves air pollution causes lung cancer to develop.

Research funded by Cancer Research UK and conducted by the Francis Crick Institute showed that small pieces of carbon particulates, known as PM2.5, enter deep into the lungs and lead to tumour development. A key gene, known as EGFR, mutates and then the presence of the air pollution exacerbates the growth and expansion of these mutated cells, the study found.

The scientists are hopeful that by shedding light on how lung cancer develops they can help to prevent it. Prof Charles Swanton, the chief clinician for Cancer Research UK and lead investigator on the study, said a statin-like drug to protect against lung cancer and ensure the inflammation that can lead to the disease is kept under control could be developed in as little as 10 years.

Prof Swanton said: “Our study has fundamentally changed how we view lung cancer in people who have never smoked."

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Source: The Telegraph, 5 April 2023


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