More than one-quarter of a million lives are lost to environment-related cancer every year
Pollution linked to 10 per cent of cancer cases in Europe, report finds

Exposure to pollution contributes to more than 10 per cent of all cancer cases in Europe

In a nutshell

Exposure to pollutants including air pollution, carcinogenic chemicals, radon, UV radiation and second-hand smoke together may contribute over 10 per cent of the cancer burden in Europe, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA).

The EEA investigated the links between cancer and the environment. The report estimated that environmental and occupational risks are behind around 10 per cent of cancer cases in Europe.

Pollution and cancer


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Percentage of premature cancer deaths attributable to environmental risks in Europe in 2019 (Image: European Environment Agency)

Every year, nearly three million people in Europe get a new cancer diagnosis and 1.3 million people die of the disease. In the new report from the EEA, the environmental body looks at the role the environment plays in cancer.

The report found that by removing pollution, cancer risks are reduced. However it also found that because cancer has long latency periods, many future cases of the disease will be caused by pollution that people are being exposed to today.

What’s been said

“Every year in Europe, an estimated over a quarter of a million lives are lost to environmental related cancer,” said Stella Kyriakides of the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

“The findings of the European Environment Agency show very clearly how the health of our planet and the health of our citizens are closely interlinked. We need to work with nature, not against it,” she added.

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