Long-term exposure to several constituents and sources of PM2.5 is associated with incidence of upper aerodigestive tract cancers but not gastric cancer: Results from the large pooled European cohort of the ELAPSE project

Sci Total Environ. 2024 Feb 20:912:168789. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.168789. Epub 2023 Nov 22.


It is unclear whether cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract (UADT) and gastric cancer are related to air pollution, due to few studies with inconsistent results. The effects of particulate matter (PM) may vary across locations due to different source contributions and related PM compositions, and it is not clear which PM constituents/sources are most relevant from a consideration of overall mass concentration alone. We therefore investigated the association of UADT and gastric cancers with PM2.5 elemental constituents and sources components indicative of different sources within a large multicentre population based epidemiological study. Cohorts with at least 10 cases per cohort led to ten and eight cohorts from five countries contributing to UADT- and gastric cancer analysis, respectively. Outcome ascertainment was based on cancer registry data or data of comparable quality. We assigned home address exposure to eight elemental constituents (Cu, Fe, K, Ni, S, Si, V and Zn) estimated from Europe-wide exposure models, and five source components identified by absolute principal component analysis (APCA). Cox regression models were run with age as time scale, stratified for sex and cohort and adjusted for relevant individual and neighbourhood level confounders. We observed 1139 UADT and 872 gastric cancer cases during a mean follow-up of 18.3 and 18.5 years, respectively. UADT cancer incidence was associated with all constituents except K in single element analyses. After adjustment for NO2, only Ni and V remained associated with UADT. Residual oil combustion and traffic source components were associated with UADT cancer persisting in the multiple source model. No associations were found for any of the elements or source components and gastric cancer incidence. Our results indicate an association of several PM constituents indicative of different sources with UADT but not gastric cancer incidence with the most robust evidence for traffic and residual oil combustion.

Keywords: Air pollution; Gastric cancer; Long-term exposure; PM composition; PM sources; Particulate matter (PM); Upper aerodigestive tract cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants* / analysis
  • Air Pollution* / analysis
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Stomach Neoplasms* / chemically induced
  • Stomach Neoplasms* / epidemiology


  • Particulate Matter
  • Air Pollutants