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Air pollution linked to the risk of cardiovascular disease in cancer patients

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A recent study has revealed a significant relationship between short-term exposure to air pollutants known as fine particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in cancer patients. PM2.5 refers to microscopic particles or droplets less than two and a half microns in width. The results suggest that even temporary impairments in air quality can have immediate adverse effects on vulnerable populations, particularly those undergoing cardio-oncology treatments.

The study's lead author, Xiaoquan Rao, a cardiologist at Tongji Medical College in Wuhan, China, emphasized the urgent need to consider environmental factors, especially air pollution, in cardio risk assessment -oncology and patient management. Previous research has associated exposure to PM2.5 with a higher risk of developing hypertension, atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.

A 2019 Global Burden of Disease Study indicated that air pollution contributed to 6.7 million deaths worldwide, with PM2.5 pollutants accounting for 15.1% of deaths for lung cancer worldwide. Air pollution levels in most parts of the world consistently exceed World Health Organization guidelines for PM2.5, with the highest levels found in low- and middle-income countries in the southern Asia, the eastern Mediterranean and the western Pacific regions. Urban populations experience the most severe exposure to PM2.5 pollutants compared to rural areas.

The researchers highlighted that air pollution has been overlooked in both cancer and cardiovascular disease, particularly in cardio-oncology care, despite substantial evidence linking air pollution to both conditions They highlighted the need to raise awareness about the impact of environmental factors, specifically air pollution, on cardio-oncological care. Increased awareness could lead to risk reduction through better knowledge of personalized protection strategies against air pollution.

Rao and his team analyzed eight studies published between 2000 and 2023, which investigated the impact of air pollutants such as PM2.5 on the cardiovascular health of cancer patients. They found that exposure to PM2.5 was associated with higher rates of cancer patients diagnosed with cardiovascular disease and even higher rates of mortality from cardiovascular disease. The team explained that the co-occurrence of cancer and cardiovascular disease, along with their shared risk factors, suggests overlapping pathophysiological mechanisms, including inflammation, immune activation, metabolic pathways, neurohormonal mechanisms, and the gut microbiome. They emphasized that inflammation and oxidative stress play a central role in these mechanisms, demonstrating a cause-and-effect relationship and interacting with other pathological factors to exert both cardiovascular and carcinogenic effects.

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