> Does haze contribute to lung cancer?
It’s known that smoking and second-hand smoke can cause lung cancer. But what about the haze that clouds the Singapore skies from time to time?
How does it affect our health and will it lead to lung cancer?
How does the haze affect our health?
Continuous short-term exposure to high levels of haze particles over a period of a few days may cause irritation of eyes, nose and throat in healthy individuals.
Haze particles can also affect hearts and lungs, especially in people who already have chronic heart or lung disease such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart failure. (source)
Is haze hazardous to health?
Particulate matter (PM) present in haze might be most strongly linked to increased morbidity and mortality worldwide.
As the respiratory tract is the main passageway for haze to enter our body, the lung is the primary affected organ.
Potential adverse effects of haze exposure on the respiratory system could be acute or chronic.
Reviews have shown that long-term exposure to haze is associated with daily respiratory disease exacerbations and increased daily mortality of respiratory disease such as asthma.
Does haze contribute to lung cancer?
Several cohort studies have shown that lung cancer is a serious long-term effect of haze exposure and suggested a strong association mostly in never-smokers and non-smokers (source).
While acute health effects such as breathing difficulties as well as ear, nose, throat and eye irritation in the short term are known, frequent and extended exposure could result in more severe and even potentially deadly complications and diseases, including cancer and heart attacks (source).
Long-term epidemiological studies have also provided evidence that exposure to haze has been linked to increased mortality, including lung cancer and cardiopulmonary mortality (source). It also showed a correlation between the relative risk of lung cancer and increase in PM2.5 concentrations.
The association was stronger in those with a history of asthma, a normal body mass index (BMI) or any chronic lung disease. Taken together, these results from epidemiological studies conducted in North America or Europe clearly showed positive associations between haze and lung cancer mortality.
What precautions can I take?