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Almost 10% of cancers in Europe are due to exposure to pollution

“The lives of almost all Europeans are destined to be affected by cancer in some way, whether with themselves or with their family, friends or community”reads the report released by the EEA.

According to the European Environment Agencythe “high prevalence of cancer” on the European continent may be due to a “variety of causes and factors”, such as lifestyle, aging and regular exposure to certain chemicals. But have “a significant proportion of cancers in Europe attributable to avoidable environmental and occupational hazards”.


“Exposure to air pollution, carcinogenic chemicals, asbestos, ultraviolet radiation and tobacco smoke together can contribute to more than 10 percent of the percentage of cancer in Europe”indicates the report.

Reducing pollution to reduce cancer cases

In a statement, the European Environment Agency indicated that, although exposure to air pollution, passive smoking, ultraviolet rays, asbestos, some chemicals and other pollutants are “at the origin of more than 10 percent of cases of cancer in Europe”, this number could decrease drastically if existing policies are subject to a rigorous update, namely in the fight against pollution, according to the organization.


“All environmental and occupational carcinogenic risks can be reduced”
Gerardo Sanchez, an EEA expert, said in the statement.

“Cancers associated with environmental causes or exposure to radiation or chemical carcinogens can be reduced to an almost negligible level”, added.

According to the EEA study, most risks can be reduced by eliminating pollution and changing some behaviors. Minimizing exposure to these risks is, experts say, “an effective and inexpensive way to reduce cancer cases and associated deaths.”

It was the first time that this institution had studied the relationship between cancer and the environment, based on the “latest scientific data on air pollution, asbestos, ultraviolet radiation, tobacco smoke and chemical substances”.

“The EEA report highlights that many cases of cancer have an underlying environmental cause. The good news is that we can act now to reduce pollution and prevent deaths.” also stated in the communiqué Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries.

“Through the European Green Deal’s zero pollution target, we can achieve economic benefits in cancer prevention by reducing exposure to harmful pollutants. What is better for the environment is also better for us.”.

The European plan to minimize cancer cases “recognises the role of environmental and occupational risks in the emergence of cancers and the possibility of saving lives thanks to effective prevention strategies”. For that reason, the “zero pollution” action plan aims to reduce air and water pollution in order to reduce human exposure to environmental pollution and reduce the harmful impact on health.

According to the data in the report now released, air pollution is responsible for one percent of cases and two percent of deaths, a percentage that rises to nine percent in the case of lung cancer. Other recent studies have also concluded that there is “a correlation between long-term exposure to particulate matter, a major air pollutant, and leukemia among adults and children.”

Radon, a natural radioactive gas that can be inhaled, particularly in poorly ventilated homes, is believed to be responsible for two percent of cancer cases in Europe.. And according to the Agency, UV light is responsible for about four percent of all cancers, particularly melanomaa serious form of skin cancer that has risen sharply in Europe in recent decades.

There are also some chemicals used in the workplace and released into the environment that are carcinogenic. Lead, arsenic, chromium, pesticides, bisphenol A and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), used among other applications in food, are among the most dangerous for the health of Europeans, as is asbestos, which is banned in the European Union. but still present in several buildings.

The EU’s Chemical Sustainability Strategy aims to eliminate the most harmful chemicals, including those that cause cancer, as well as encourage the use of safe and sustainable chemicals from the start.

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