Can air pollution cause cancer? AIIMS doctor answers as Delhi breathes toxic air
The 'severe' air pollution levels in Delhi are poised to have significant impacts on the health of its residents, health experts warned as the pollution situation in the city turned grim. Experts have asked city residents to take measures to reduce exposure to the toxic air. According to Dr. Piyush Ranjan of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), there is enough evidence to show that exposure to outdoor air pollution can cause cancer in humans.
Air pollution causes hazardous damage to the respiratory system. However, studies have also found a direct link between air pollution and coronary artery diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, and arthritis, Dr Ranjan said.
"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," Dr Ranjan, Additional Professor at the Department of Medicine in AIIMS, told news agency ANI.
Experts warn that air pollution can cause cancer in a number of ways. It can damage DNA, which can lead to the development of cancer cells. Air pollution can also cause inflammation, weakening the immune system and making it more difficult for the body to fight off cancer cells.
Furthermore, air pollution has been linked to an increased risk of fetal damage. Continuous exposure can also harm the brain and heart and may trigger anxiety across all age groups if precautions are not taken.
Vehicular emission is the main source of PM2.5 pollution in Delhi. Meanwhile, PM2.5 particles are the smallest and most dangerous type of particulate matter, as they can easily penetrate deep into the lungs and bloodstream. Vehicles also make up 80 per cent of nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide in Delhi's air.