Health effects of air pollution on length of respiratory cancer survival

BMC Public Health. 2013 Sep 3;13:800. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-800.


Background: Air pollution has been extensively and consistently linked with mortality. However, no study has investigated the health effects of air pollution on length of survival among diagnosed respiratory cancer patients.

Methods: In this study, we conducted a population-based study to investigate if air pollution exposure has adverse effects on survival time of respiratory cancer cases in Los Angeles (LA), CA and Honolulu, HI. We selected all White respiratory cancer patients in the two study areas from the 1992-2008 Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results cancer data. Death from respiratory cancer and length of survival were the main outcomes.

Results: Kaplan-Meier survival analysis shows that all respiratory cancer cases exposed to high air pollution referring to the individuals from LA had a significantly shorter survival time than the low pollution exposure group referring to those from Honolulu without adjusting for other covariates (p <0.0001). Moreover, the results from the Cox Proportional-Hazards models suggest that exposure to particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) was associated with an increased risk of cancer death (HR = 1.48, 95% CI: 1.44-1.52 per 10 μg/m3 increase in PM10) after adjusting for demographic factors and cancer characteristics. Similar results were observed for particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter and ozone.

Conclusion: Our study indicates that air pollution may have deleterious effects on the length of survival among White respiratory cancer patients. This study calls for attention to preventive effort from air pollution for this susceptible population in standard cancer patient care. The findings from this study warrant further investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Hawaii / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Los Angeles / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Particulate Matter / adverse effects
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • SEER Program
  • Survival Analysis
  • Survivors*


  • Particulate Matter