The air pollution level in the national capital had reached a choking height with an average yearly PM 2.5 concentration at 113.5 micrograms per cubic meter in the year 2018. There is no denying that exposure to smog can be incredibly harmful to our health in a lot of ways. It can not only cause asthma, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and allergies but may also aggravate existing respiratory illness.
However, did you know that this deadly air pollution can also cause lung cancer? A 28-year-old woman has been diagnosed with stage-4 lung cancer in the country capital recently. Here is the worst part, the woman is a non-smoker.
According to doctors of the Ganga Ram Hospital, it could be the toxic air and high-level of air pollutants in the city which caused the stage 4 cancer in the woman, who is a resident of Ghazipur town. The air quality index of this area, as of today, is poor which means if you suffer from respiratory issues, you might be advised to reduce prolonged outdoors exposure and exertion.
While the doctors were taken aback with the case, they also noticed that it was not the first such case which has been reported amongst people in their 20s.
What do the doctors say?
Dr Arvind Kumar, chest surgeon at the Ganga Ram Hospital spoke to ANI and said, “I suspect the reason behind it is polluted and toxic air in Delhi. Polluted air also contains elements found in cigarettes. It isn’t an isolated case.”
He further added, “I have reported such cases earlier too. On average, I have seen 2-3 lung cancer cases every month in non-smoking individuals in their early 30s. But this is the first case in the 20s.”
What is lung cancer?
Lung cancer is the type of cancer which starts in the lungs. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for around 80 to 85 per cent of lung cancer cases. Other types of lung cancer include small cell lung cancer and mesothelioma. The NSCLC is further divided into various subtypes:
2. Squamous cell cancer
3. Large cell carcinoma
4. Undifferentiated non small cell lung cancer
What causes lung cancer?
While smoking undoubtedly remains the major cause behind this fatal disease (causing over 90 per cent of lung cancer cases), it is important to understand that anyone can get lung cancer if they inhale toxic substances.
Even if you are a non-smoker, passive smoking (second-hand smoking), exposure to radioactive gases (radon), hazardous chemicals and particle pollution can increase the risk of lung cancer.