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Cancer patients exposed to air pollution at higher risk of heart disease and death

The research reviewed eight papers published between 2000 and 2023 that studied the direct impacts of air pollution on cardiovascular diseases.
Last Updated : 19 June 2024, 09:12 IST

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New Delhi: Air pollution could increase the risk of heart diseases and death in cancer patients, adding to health inequities experienced by the group, according to a new research.

The research reviewed eight papers published between 2000 and 2023 that studied the direct impacts of air pollution on cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack and stroke, and cancer. More than 1.1 crore participants were included in the review.

The researchers found that exposure to fine particulate (PM2.5) pollution weakened the body's detoxification and its defences against inflammation, which are risk factors common to both cancer and cardiovascular disease.

"Air pollution plays an undeniable role in the field of cardio-oncology," the authors, including those from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China, wrote.

Even short-term exposure to unhealthy levels of air pollution can quickly affect the heart health of cancer patients, according to the researchers. The findings are published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC): CardioOncology.

"This suggests that even temporary deteriorations in air quality can have immediate adverse effects on vulnerable populations such as cardio-oncology patients," said senior author Xiaoquan Rao, a cardiologist at Tongji Hospital, Huazhong University of Science and Technology.

Air pollution also worsens health inequities around the world as disadvantaged populations are exposed to higher levels and cancer patients among them are at a higher risk of heart disease and death compared to the general public, said the researchers.

According to the authors, while air pollution is recognised as a significant risk factor for both heart disease and cancer, this study aims to show its effects in cardio-oncology or the overlap of both conditions - an area in which little research has been done.

Deaths due to air pollution are estimated to be about 100-fold higher in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), compared to high-income ones. LMICs also see more than 65 per cent of all cancer deaths, and 70 per cent of cardiovascular disease deaths, the authors said in the study.

Environmental factors are critical for understanding cardio-oncology risk and patient management and the findings could help identify people more vulnerable to the risk, said Rao.

"This awareness is crucial for developing tailored air pollution exposure control measures and individualised patient management strategies aimed at mitigating cardiovascular disease risks among cancer patients," said Rao.

The authors also outlined potential interventions aimed at reducing the adverse effects of air pollution exposure, including recommendations for society and governments.

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Published 19 June 2024, 09:12 IST

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