NEW DELHI: Lung cancer cases among non-smokers have increased fivefold in the past decade, said experts at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, citing a thick blanket of smog, which consists of concentrated particulate matter, in big cities as the main reason behind the change.
According to the experts, due to continuous breathing in this toxic air, people have consequently developed respiratory illnesses like COPD, asthma, bronchitis and other grave respiratory illness.
“The worsening air condition is a major contributor to lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. Especially in the months of November-January, we breathe in air as toxic as 70 cigarettes a day. There are mainly two types of outdoor air pollutants namely ozone and particle pollution.
"The size of the PM defines its impact on the lungs. PM as small as 2.5 microns (PM2.5) is said to have a direct relationship with lung cancer. There have been observations that these minute particles when entering the human body cause alteration in the DNA which ultimately causes cancer,” said Dr Sudha Kansal, senior consultant, pulmonology and respiratory medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.
The expert noted that lung cancer is being caused due to pollution which is usually associated with tobacco smoke inhalation. This smoke may be due to active or passive smoking.
Some major health impacts of air pollution that are commonly observed are aggravated bronchial asthma and other COPD diseases, damage to the nervous system, cardiovascular ailments and mild symptoms such as fatigue, headache, anxiety and irritation in the nose, eyes and throat.