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Air pollution: a potentially modifiable risk factor for lung cancer


Economic growth and increased urbanization pose a new risk for cancer development: the exposure of high numbers of people to ambient air pollution. Epidemiological evidence that links air pollution to mortality from lung cancer is robust. An ability to produce high-quality scientific research that addresses these risks and the ability of local health authorities to understand and respond to these risks are basic requirements to solve the conflict between economic development and the preservation of human health. However, this is currently far from being achieved. Thus, this Science and Society article addresses the possibilities of expanding scientific networking to increase awareness of the risk of lung cancer that is promoted by air pollution.

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Figure 1: Global annual mean PM10 concentrations in 2009 by population density.
Figure 2: A comparison of scientific research output on various global health issues.


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This work was partly supported by grants (number 573813/2008-6) from CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico) and by grant (number 12/19266-8) from FAPESP (Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo). P.S., L.V.B. and L.F. developed the ideas in the article. L.F. and L.V.B. designed the maps. L.F. and M.V. carried out the literature review, and L.F., M.V., L.V.B. and P.S. wrote the article. The authors collected the relevant literature on cancer effects and air pollution by searching the Web of Science database for papers published from 1981 to date using the terms air pollution and cancer, and by applying the public environmental and occupational health filter.

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Correspondence to Paulo Saldiva.

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Fajersztajn, L., Veras, M., Barrozo, L. et al. Air pollution: a potentially modifiable risk factor for lung cancer. Nat Rev Cancer 13, 674–678 (2013).

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