Metal Exposure May Up Lung Cancer Risk

A recent study suggests that metal exposure can increase lung cancer risks, and some metals pose more risks than others.

The study involved almost 6,000 people and reviewed a number of metals to determine if there were any links to increased likelihoods of developing lung cancer. The study reviewed the dust and fumes of several metals such as <"">arsenic, chromium, nickel, and cadmium, and also looked at inorganic pigment dust as well as inorganic acid dust, said

Arsenic, chromium dust, and cadmium fumes were connected to the most significant risks for developing lung cancer. The study pointed out that while the risk to arsenic was higher, it was the chromium dust exposure that presented the most serious concern, said also noted that, for the most part, on-the-job exposures to chemicals and other toxins is believed to be the cause of between 13 and 29 percent of lung cancers in men.

The study was a population-based lung cancer case-control study that was conducted in 1998-2003 in Central and Eastern Europe and the United Kingdom; the research adjusting for confounding factors. Study documents indicate that exposure to 70 occupational agents was reviewed for all subjects; odds ratios (OR) on exposures to dust, fumes, and mists for the metals and inorganic pigment and acid dusts were adjusted for smoking, age, center, gender, and exposure to other occupational agents and these metals, said the Centre for Public Health Research.

The team concluded that occupational exposure to metals is a significant lung cancer risk cancer with chromium dust presenting the most serious risk due to its high prevalence, noted the Centre for Public Health Research.

Chromium is a naturally occurring element in the environment, but it is also a toxin that is dumped into bodies of water by industry. The heavy metal is used in the manufacture of steel and plate metal, and is also used in leather tanning and as a corrosion preventative.

Chromium can cause dangerous health effects and chromium exposure can cause skin irritation, asthma, kidney and liver damage, dental issues, and cancer.

Breathing high levels of asbestos fibers is linked to increased risks of lung cancer, mesothelioma—a cancer of the lining of the chest and abdominal cavity—and asbestosis—in which lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue.

Many feel using asbestos-containing products may explain—in part—why some non-smokers and persons with no occupational exposures develop these diseases. There is no known safe level of asbestos exposure. If inhaled, microscopic asbestos particles can penetrate lung tissue and stay there permanently, causing serious, even deadly, respiratory illnesses or cancer than might not manifest until decades after initial exposure.

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