Prof Paolo Vineis interviewed by Lancet "Europe-wide study finds long-term exposure to even low levels of air pollution increases risk of lung cancer"

Prof Paolo Vineis and Dr Helga Laszlo discuss the impacts of prolonged exposure to particulate air pollution and the increased risk of lung cancer, in an interview with the Lancet.

The interview can be viewed at

A Europe-wide study published in The Lancet Oncology assesses the impact of long-term exposure to nitrogen oxides and particulate matter (including traffic, industry, and domestic heating). The analysis found that long-term exposure to even low levels of air pollution increases the risk of lung cancer.

Using data from the European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE), coordinated by the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, the investigators did a meta-analysis of 17 cohort studies in nine European countries including almost 313 000people.

Air pollution concentration was estimated at the home addresses using land-use regression models. Participants were tracked for new lung cancer diagnoses in national and local cancer registries, and the researchers applied statistical modelling to separate the influence of air pollutants from other factors like smoking, diet, and occupation.

Among the participants, 2095 developed lung cancer during the average 13 years of follow up.


The analysis found that for every increase of 5 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5 pollution, the risk of lung cancer rose by 18%, and for every increase of 10 micrograms per cubic meter in PM10 pollution the risk increased by 22%, with stronger effects indicated for adenocarcinomas. No association between lung cancer and nitrogen oxides was noted.

According to the authors, “The association between particulate matter air pollution and the risk for lung cancer persisted also at concentrations below the existing European Union air quality limit values for PM10 (40 μg/m3) and PM2.5 (25 μg/m3). We found no threshold below which there was no risk; the results showed a picture that ‘the more the worse, the less the better’.

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