Studies find on-the-job exposure responsible for 13–29 percent of lung cancers
Tobacco smoking remains the leading risk factor of lung cancer, with approximately 90 percent of all lung cancers directly related to tobacco smoking.
That said, smoking is not the only cause, and people who have never smoked still get lung cancer. Among the many causes of lung cancer, on-the-job exposure is receiving more attention. For example, studies indicate that second-hand smoke contributes to formation of the disease in people who have worked in bars and other smoky environments.
However, a study published recently in Cancer Causes & Control suggests that metals, such as chromium, cadmium and arsenic can increase the risk of developing lung cancer. Almost 6,000 people took part in the investigation.
The study concludes that: “Occupational exposure to metals is an important risk factor for lung cancer. Although the strongest risk was observed for arsenic, exposure to chromium dust was most important in terms of attributable risk due to its high prevalence.”
This may lead one to ask, where are workers exposed to chromium dust and arsenic?
Chromium is used in chrome plating, formulating pigments and dyes, making wood preservatives and in leather tanning. Arsenic use occurs often in manufacturing metal alloys and electronics. It is also found in wood preservatives and is a by-product of metal smelting and the burning of coal.
Earlier studies have associated metals with lung cancer. However, they often did not take smoking by the participants into consideration, which would also increase one’s lung cancer risk.
It is clear that workers in certain industries should be concerned about their exposure to metals and other potentially cancer-causing substance. Lynne Eldridge, MD, provides this list of occupations that have shown to possibly increase one’s risk of lung cancer:
• Asbestos handling
• Glass manufacturing
• Commercial printing
• Metal work
• Truck driving
• Uranium mining
Not all of these industries carry a higher risk because of metals. There are a number of other substances associated with certain industries that could pose a hazard. According to Eldridge, they include:
• Diesel fumes
• Natural fibers, such as asbestos, silica and wood dust
• Reactive chemicals, such as bis(chloromethyl) ether, mustard gas and vinyl chloride
• Secondhand smoke
• Solvents, such as benzene and toluene
People who are at increased risk of lung cancer because of exposure to these substances might benefit from lung cancer screening that involves imaging, such as a low-dose CT scan and EarlyCDT®-Lung, a simple blood test. Early detection of lung cancer can significantly improve the chances of a cure.
For more information on the clinical validation, as well as other peer review articles highlighting EarlyCDT-Lung, click here to access papers and publications. You may also view the video of Professor John Robertson, pioneer of the technological platform, discuss the data.
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