Air pollution has emerged as a major factor for lung cancer in India especially among those below the age of 40 suggests a new study conducted by Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH), Delhi along with Lung Care Foundation. The study found that 50% of cancer patients are non-smokers. Of the 150 patients who were successfully treated from March 2012 to June 2018, 74 were non-smokers, while 76 were smokers. “Pollution is contributing a lot to the rise in lung cancer cases. Industrial and vehicular emissions and stubble burning are some major reasons for lung cancer. Young people and women are victims of lung cancer mostly due to pollution,” said Neeraj Jain, chest physician, Ganga Ram Hospital.
According to Arvind Kumar, chairman, Centre for Chest Surgery, SGRH, children are being exposed to bad air quality since their birth and therefore even before one starts smoking, the lungs are infected due to pollution. “PM 2.5 level pollution in the air is equivalent to smoking one cigarette a day. And therefore, newborns inhaling such bad air have higher chances of being diagnosed with lung cancer. That is why we recommend check-ups,” he said. It is also found that 30% of patients studied for the report had been initially misdiagnosed as tuberculosis and were treated for the same for many months before starting cancer treatment.