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Those working in petroleum industries have a higher risk of cancer

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Ground Report | New Delhi: A new report by the International Cancer Research Agency states that people who work in the petroleum industries or live near petroleum plants and units have a higher risk of developing many types of cancer.

The report adds some more evidence to the health consequences of air pollution arising out of petroleum excavation and augmentation.

Cancer risk

Lung cancer and leukemia were found to be associated with petroleum work done in coastal areas. There is an increased risk of mesothelioma, skin melanoma, prostate cancer and bladder cancer. Along with the close proximity of petroleum industries, an increased risk of leukemia in childhood was also reported to be associated.

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Scientists from the agency’s environment and lifestyle sector, during their review, conducted 41 studies, 14 of which were controlled studies and included studies in two different categories. The results of these studies have been published in the international journal of environmental research and public health.

The review identified petroleum industry work as being associated with an increased risk of mesothelioma, skin melanoma, multiple myeloma, and cancers of the prostate and urinary bladder, and a decreased risk of cancers of the oesophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, and pancreas. Offshore petroleum work was associated with an increased risk of lung cancer and leukaemia in stratified analysis. Residential proximity to petroleum facilities was associated with an increased risk of childhood leukaemia.

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Among the five categories of petroleum industries evaluated, there was no substantial effect on the summary ES results of the main meta-analysis. Exceptions were the significant elevation of lung cancer (OR 1.20; 95% CI: 1.03, 1.39) and leukemia (combined) (OR 1.47; 95% CI: 1.12,1.92) among offshore workers. Mesothelioma was significantly elevated among four categories evaluated i.e., refinery (OR 1.94; 95% CI: 1.00,3.76), petroleum (OR 1.58; 95% CI: 1.30–1.93), refinery and petrochemical (OR 2.86; 95% CI: 2.16, 3.77), and offshore (OR 2.47; 95% CI: 1.66, 3.67). Skin melanoma was significantly elevated in the petroleum category (OR 1.28; 95% CI: 1.10,1.50).

Need more research

The report have expressed the view that more study needs to be done as to what and how the risk of cancer changes due to exposure to petroleum and its close substances. Scientists argue that the best way forward can be that a new international group will guide new studies in Africa, Middle East and Asia. To see how studies are done and how environmental and health hazards are assessed.

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