TUESDAY, April 9 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy and the first year of life might increase the likelihood of developing certain childhood cancers, California researchers say.
Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health collected data on children diagnosed with cancer before the age of 6 and local traffic exposure. The greater the traffic pollution, the higher the odds for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (white blood cell cancer), germ cell tumors (cancers of the testicles, ovaries and other organs) and eye cancer, they found.
These findings do not mean pollution actually causes these cancers, said lead researcher Julia Heck, an assistant researcher in the department of epidemiology. "This finding is an association, because nothing is proven yet," she said.
But the results do suggest that exposure to traffic pollution might increase risk for childhood cancers, Heck added. "Since this was the first study to report risks for these [uncommon childhood] cancers, these findings need to be confirmed in other studies," she said.
Areas of California are known for their unhealthy air. The state's topography and its warm, sunny climate tend to form and trap air pollutants, creating smog, according to the California Air Resources Board.
The researchers focused on pregnancy because certain cancers originate in the womb, Heck said.
But women shouldn't worry about their baby's risk for cancer based on this study, another expert said.
"There has been an association between air pollution and other diseases," said Dr. Rubin Cohen, director of the Adult Cystic Fibrosis and Bronchiectasis Center at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y. "We know that pollution causes asthma, and that is probably more real than the cancer issue."
Cohen isn't sure the association between pollu
All rights reserved