Long-Term Exposure to Air Pollutants and Cancer Mortality: A Meta-Analysis of Cohort Studies

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Nov 21;15(11):2608. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15112608.


The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between main air pollutants and all cancer mortality by performing a meta-analysis. We searched PubMed, EMBASE (a biomedical and pharmacological bibliographic database of published literature produced by Elsevier), and the reference lists of other reviews until April 2018. A random-effects model was employed to analyze the meta-estimates of each pollutant. A total of 30 cohort studies were included in the final analysis. Overall risk estimates of cancer mortality for 10 µg/m³ per increase of particulate matter (PM)2.5, PM10, and NO₂ were 1.17 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.11⁻1.24), 1.09 (95% CI: 1.04⁻1.14), and 1.06 (95% CI: 1.02⁻1.10), respectively. With respect to the type of cancer, significant hazardous influences of PM2.5 were noticed for lung cancer mortality and non-lung cancer mortality including liver cancer, colorectal cancer, bladder cancer, and kidney cancer, respectively, while PM10 had harmful effects on mortality from lung cancer, pancreas cancer, and larynx cancer. Our meta-analysis of cohort studies indicates that exposure to the main air pollutants is associated with increased mortality from all cancers.

Keywords: air pollutants; cancer mortality; cohort study; meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter