Fact Check: Can Air Pollution Cause Cancer?

New Delhi: It happens every year, and it’s no different this time.

India’s Capital city has been experiencing ‘severe’ air pollution levels since November 3, forcing the Delhi government to take several steps like shutting schools and reintroducing the odd-even car system on roads.

But the most scary aspect is the impact that this alarming air pollution will have on people’s health.

Medical experts have asked residents to be seriously mindful of exposure to the toxic air, and take adequate measures.

Can this severe air quality cause cancer?

Yes, says Dr Piyush Ranjan of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi.

He said that there is enough evidence to show that exposure to outdoor air pollution can cause cancer in humans as it leads to hazardous damage to the respiratory system.

Studies have also found a direct link between air pollution and coronary artery diseases like heart attacks, strokes and arthritis, said Dr Ranjan.

“It is important to understand that air pollution affects various systems of the body, apart from causing respiratory diseases. Pollution has direct relations with coronary artery diseases like heart attack, brain stroke and arthritis. We have scientific evidence that establishes its relationship with different types of cancer,” ANI quoted Dr Ranjan, Additional Professor at Department of Medicine in AIIMS, as saying.

According to experts, air pollution can cause cancer in a number of ways.

Exposure to poor air quality can damage DNA, which can lead to development of cancer cells. Air pollution can also cause inflammation and weaken the immune system, which make it even more difficult for the body to fight off cancer cells.

Air pollution has also been linked to an increased risk of foetal damage, as well as damage to the brain and heart.

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