Copenhagen (dpa) – According to European Union experts, about a tenth of cancer cases in Europe can be traced back to external factors such as pollutants.
Air pollution, carcinogenic chemicals, UV rays or even secondhand smoke are all responsible for an estimated 10 percent of all cancers, and possibly even much more, the European Environment Agency (EEA) wrote in a recently published report. Smoking, alcohol consumption or your diet are not included in this analysis.
Reducing the number of cancers by protecting the environment
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 European Economic Agency concludes that “environmental and occupational cancer risks are inherently preventable and reduced is key to reducing the burden of cancer in Europe.”
The Executive Director of the European Economic Area, Hans Bruinincks, explained that reducing pollution through the EU “Zero Pollution” Action Plan, the Chemicals for Sustainability Strategy and the consistent implementation of current EU measures would contribute significantly to reducing the number of cancers. “It will be an effective investment in the well-being of our citizens.” “What’s better for the environment is also better for us,” said EU Environment Commissioner Virginius Sinkevicius.
This study was the first of its kind in the European Economic Area to examine how cancer relates to the environment. Among other things, the European Union authority examined the latest scientific findings on air pollution, radon, asbestos, ultraviolet radiation, natural and man-made environmental factors that can have a negative impact on people’s health. EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said the findings from the European Economic Area clearly show how the health of the planet is linked to the health of citizens. “We must work with nature, not against it.”
The European Union is more affected than other regions of the world
The Environment Agency noted that the data is incomplete and that the associated uncertainties are significant. “There is a lot we don’t know. But what we do know calls for more action,” said Gerardo Sanchez, an expert on the European Economic Area. There is not much citizens can do to prevent exposure to pollutants. Instead, more policy measures and regulations and pressure for implementation are needed. There are enough suggested solutions.
With approximately 2.7 million new diagnoses and 1.3 million deaths each year, the European Union is hardest hit by cancer than other regions of the world. Although less than 10 percent of the world’s population lives in Europe, according to the European Economic Area, it accounts for nearly 23 percent of new cases and 20 percent of deaths worldwide. The most common cause of death is only circulatory disease. According to the EEA, this higher rate of cancer can be explained by several factors, including lifestyle including smoking, alcohol consumption and diet, but also with aging – and also to the fact that people are constantly exposed to pollutants.
“The lives of nearly all Europeans are bound to be affected in some way by cancer, whether they themselves, their families, friends or communities,” writes the EEA. There are also significant economic costs: according to a study, it was estimated at 178 billion euros in 2018, the agency stated.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220628-99-828145 / 3