Lung Cancer Link to Living Near Heavy Industry

Lung cancer from living near industry


Living close to heavy industry may increase the risk of lung cancer, according to a study published today.

A total of 204 women under the age of 80 with primary lung cancer were compared with 339 healthy women in Teesside, north-east England.

Rates of lung cancer are high in the area where heavy industry expanded rapidly throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and where there is common deprivation and poverty, the study noted.

By 1945, Billingham on Teesside was the largest single chemical production complex in the world, and houses for the workforce were built as close as possible to the industrial sites.

All the study participants were interviewed at length about their lives, including histories of where they had lived, their jobs, smoking habits, and exposure to second-hand smoke.

The distance of homes from heavy industry sites were also measured: less than 5km (3.1 miles) away (zone A); 5 to 10km (6.2 miles) away (zone B); and more than 10km away (zone C).

The women had all lived in the area for an average of more than 55 years.

Risk of lung cancer increases when living near industry zone

After taking into account smoking and other factors likely to influence the results, the data showed that women who had lived in zone A for more than 25 years were almost twice as likely to develop lung cancer as those who had not lived there.

The authors, including a team from the University of Newcastle, said the incidence of lung cancer among women was high in the area and previous research has implicated industrial pollution as a possible cause.

They said their findings supported other research that suggests a higher risk of lung cancer through living for a long time close to heavy industry.

"The effect of air pollution on the incidence of lung cancer merits continued study," they added.

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