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Long-term exposure to air pollution and the risk of non-lung cancer: a meta-analysis of observational studies.

  • Kim, H-B1, 2
  • Shim, J-Y2, 3
  • Park, B2, 4
  • Lee, Y-J2, 5
  • 1 Department of Family Medicine, Myongji Hospital, Hanyang University College of Medicine, Goyang, Republic of Korea. , (North Korea)
  • 2 Department of Medicine, Graduate School, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea. , (North Korea)
  • 3 Department of Family Medicine, Severance Hospital, Yonsei University College of Medicine, 50-1 Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 03722, Republic of Korea. , (North Korea)
  • 4 Department of Family Medicine, Yongin Severance Hospital, Yongin, Republic of Korea. , (North Korea)
  • 5 Department of Family Medicine, Gangnam Severance Hospital, Seoul, Republic of Korea. , (North Korea)
Published Article
Perspectives in public health
Publication Date
Dec 09, 2019
DOI: 10.1177/1757913919891751
PMID: 31813335


Several meta-analyses of observational studies report a long-term correlation between air pollution and the risk of cancer, particularly lung carcinoma. The aim of this study was to review and quantify evidence for an association between air pollution and the risk of developing non-lung cancers. We searched PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, and the reference lists of the included studies as well as those recorded in previous meta-analyses conducted before January 2019. A random-effects model was used to derive overall risk estimates per pollutant. A total of 20 studies, including 5 case-control and 15 prospective cohort studies, were used in the final analysis. The risk of developing non-lung cancer was 1.09 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.01-1.18, I2 = 72.9%) per NO2 increases of 10 µg/m3. There was also a significant association between exposure to PM2.5 and PM10 and the risk of non-lung cancer when the male and female populations were combined (pooled odds ratio/relative risk (OR/RR) = 1.22, 95% CI: 1.11-1.34; I2 = 0.0% and pooled OR/RR = 1.26, 95% CI: 1.05-1.52; I2 = 43.9%, respectively). Regarding the type of cancer, significant harmful effects of PM2.5 were observed for liver cancer populations (pooled OR/RR = 1.21, 95% CI: 1.10-1.32; I2 = 0.0%). Different types of cancer were positively associated with the incidence of non-lung cancer and PM10 in the random-effect meta-regression analysis. Long-term exposure to air pollutants appears to be associated with an increased risk of non-lung cancer. Care should be taken in interpretation, because the results for specific cancers were restricted.

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