Study links tiny particles to brain cancer

Source: By Damian Carrington, London Guardian • Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A new study from Canadian researchers has for the first time drawn a link between brain cancer and ultrafine particles of air pollution.

Fuel burning, especially diesel vehicle exhaust, creates the nanoparticles, which had larger impacts on people living in more heavily trafficked areas.

The research, published in the journal Epidemiology, found that being exposed to 10,000 extra nanoparticles of pollution per cubic centimeter over a year correlated to a 10% higher risk for brain cancer.

“When you multiply these small risks by lots of people, all of sudden there can be lots of cases. In a large city, it could be a meaningful number, particularly given the fact that these tumors are often fatal,” said the study’s lead author, Scott Weichenthal of McGill University in Canada.

He called the connection between the nanoparticles and brain cancer “surprisingly consistent.”

“We don’t know a lot about the causes of brain tumors, so any environmental factors we can identify are helpful in increasing understanding.”

The study focused on Toronto and Montreal to measure pollution levels and the increased risk of brain cancer for city dwellers.

The World Health Organization has previously called air pollution a “silent public health emergency.”

Since this is the first study of its kind, researchers will need to replicate its results to strengthen the potential scientific link between brain cancer and air pollution.