EU Environment Agency: External factors responsible for many cancer cases

EU Environment Agency
External factors responsible for many cases of cancer

the air pollution

Pollution and other external influences are a cancer risk for many people in Europe. Photo: Philippe Desmazes/AFP/dpa

© dpa-infocom GmbH

What influence do pollutants in the environment have on how often people develop cancer? The EU Environment Agency has taken a closer look at this and comes up with a clear message.

According to EU experts, around one in ten cancer cases in Europe can be attributed to external factors, such as pollutants.

Air pollution, carcinogenic chemicals, ultraviolet light or even passive smoking are together responsible for about 10 percent of all cancers, probably even many more, as the EU Environment Agency, EEA, writes. , in a recently published report. Smoking, alcohol consumption, or diet itself are not included in this analysis.

Reduce the number of cancers through environmental protection

The good news is that environmental and occupational cancer risks can be reduced by tackling environmental pollution and changing behaviour, the Copenhagen-based agency said. It is an effective and inexpensive way to reduce the number of cancer cases and deaths. The EEA concludes: “Environmental and occupational cancer risks are inherently preventable and reducing them is key to reducing the burden of cancer in Europe.”

EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx explained that reducing pollution through the EU’s “Zero Pollution” action plan, the chemical strategy for sustainability and the consistent implementation of existing EU measures would contribute important way to reduce the number of cancers. “It would be an effective investment in the well-being of our citizens.” EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius emphasized: “What is best for the environment is also best for us.”

The study was the first by the EEA to examine how cancer and the environment are linked. Among other things, the EU authority reviewed the latest scientific findings on air pollution, radon, asbestos, ultraviolet radiation and other natural and man-made environmental factors that can have a negative impact on the health of people. people. The EEA’s findings clearly show how closely the health of the planet is linked to the health of citizens, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said. “We must work with nature, not against it.”

EU more affected than other regions of the world

The Environment Agency noted that the data was incomplete and associated uncertainties were large. “There are many things we don’t know. But what we do know requires much more action,” said EEA expert Gerardo Sánchez. There is not much individual citizens can do to prevent exposure to pollutants. Rather, more policy measures, regulations and a push for implementation are needed. There are enough solutions suggested.

With almost 2.7 million new diagnoses and 1.3 million deaths each year, the EU is more affected by cancer than other regions of the world. Although less than 10 percent of the world’s population lives in Europe, according to the EEA, it accounts for almost 23 percent of new cases and 20 percent of deaths worldwide. The most common cause of death is only circulatory diseases. According to the EEA, this high incidence of cancer can be explained by several factors, including lifestyle, including smoking, alcohol consumption and diet, but also by ageing, and also by the fact that people are exposed permanently to contaminants.

“The lives of almost all Europeans are destined to be affected in some way by cancer, be it themselves or their family, friends or the community,” the EEA writes. There are also significant economic costs: according to a study, they were estimated at 178,000 million euros in 2018, according to the agency.

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