28-Year-Old Non-Smoker Woman Diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer

Doctors say polluted air contains components found in cigarettes. It is not an isolated case.

2 min read
 Polluted air contains components found in cigarettes. It is not an isolated case.

Doctors at Gangaram Hospital in the capital have raised concerns and warnings against toxic air pollution after a young 28-year-ols woman was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. She also has no family history.

Dr Arvind Kumar, chest surgeon at the hospital, and also the founder of Lung Care Foundation said,

“I suspect the reason behind it is polluted and toxic air in the city. Polluted air contains components found in cigarettes. It is not an isolated case.”

In a earlier article Dr Kumar wrote for FIT, he had warned about the rising threat from air pollution.

“As a practising chest surgeon, I have operated upon several thousand pair of lungs over the last 30 years. However, when I started, a large majority of the lung cancer cases I handled were in men aged 50 years and above. Most of them were known smokers – who had been voluntarily smoking since their early 20s.” He added,

“Today, I operate upon lung cancer cases in adults as young as 29 years old. A large number of these are both men and women who have never smoked a cigarette. In fact, there is a 50 percent rise in lung cancer cases (the most prevalent type of cancer in the country) in non-smokers.”

Earlier this year, a devastating UN report said polluted air kills 6 lakh children every year. Every hour, 800 people die prematurely of air pollution. An extensive report titled ‘Air Pollution and Noncommunicable Diseases,’ published in May this year, found that exposure to toxic air affects almost every part of an individual’s body, signalling the need for active intervention.

Air Pollution and Its Effects on the Human Body

A report in The Guardian breaks down the findings of the study by enlisting the ways in which exposure to toxic air affects particular parts of the body.

Lungs and Heart: There is sufficient evidence to prove the direct link between air pollution and respiratory problems like asthma and lung cancer. The current study, also adds to the list a higher risk of heart attacks because of the weakening of muscles and narrowing of arteries.

Brain: Air pollution may cause problems such as strokes, dementia, poor sleep and a negative impact on intelligence.

Abdominal organs: The liver, bladder and the gut (cancers as well as irritable bowel syndrome) may also be affected due to exposure to pollution.

Reproduction: Air pollution has caused damage to fertility and reproduction, even affecting the fetuses. Low birth weight, miscarriages, higher risk of childhood obesity and mental health problems are also known consequences. The study states “exposures to air pollutants during the prenatal period and during childhood can have harmful and irreversible effects on the lung and other organ systems.”

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