Fine Particulate Matter, Lung Cancer & Cardiovascular Disease

When researchers re-examined the data for 1.2 million adults from the Cancer Prevention Study, they found that fine particulate matter found in tobacco smoke and air pollution, has a very different relationhip with cardiovascular disease and lung cancer.
They found that lung cancer has a linear exposure-response curve with fine particulate matter so the risk of lung cancer continues to increase as the exposure increases.With cardiovascular disease however, the researchers found a non-linear exposure response curve.  They found a steep increase in the number of cardiovascular deaths at low levels of exposure to fine particulate matter with the risk increasing less as the exposure increases.

This means that cardiovascular deaths would account for most of the deaths associated with low levels of exposure to fine particulate matter, while lung cancer would become proportionately more important at higher levels of exposure. 
These relationships are important when estimating the burden of
illness associated with exposures to air pollution, second-hand smoke and cigarettes. They suggest that lung cancer would be the dominant health concern with smokers while cardiovascular disease would be the dominant concern with air pollution and exposure to second-hand smoke.
Pope III, Arden, Richard T. Bennett, Michelle C. Turner, Aaron Cohen, Daniel Krewski, Michael Jerrett, Susan M. Gapstur, Michael J. Thun.  “Lung Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality Associated with Ambient Air Pollution and Cigarette Smoke: Shape of the Exposure-Response Relationships”, Environmental Health Perspectives.  July 2011.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1103639
Prepared by Kim Perrotta
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