Lung Cancer Prevention In The Mountains – Part 2 of 3
But no one knows whether taking in less oxygen would affect humans’ cancer risk. According to Edelman, the oxygen theory has some “biological plausibility”. But for now, it’s just a theory. Of course, it’s not just oxygen that varies by elevation. Simeonov said he and and mate Daniel Himmelstein, also an MD/PhD trainee at University of Pennsylvania, tried to account for other variables, such as county-by-county differences in sunlight jeopardy and air pollution – neither of which explained the link between elevation and lung cancer.
Nor did rates of smoking or obesity, or differences in counties’ demographics, including education and income levels, and racial makeup. “We asked, can anything spell out this better than elevation?” Simeonov said. “And nothing else even came close”. What’s more there was no strong correlation between elevation and rates of several non-respiratory tumors: breast, prostate and colon cancers. That suggests an “inhaled” jeopardize factor is at work.
He was quick to add, though, that no study can account for all the variables that sway cancer risk. A next step could be a “cohort study,” analyzing information from individual people, as opposed to this county-by-county look. But it would take lab research to figure out whether oxygen exposure, specifically, might affect lung cancer development. For some the contemporaneous findings might raise another question: Could taking antioxidants help prevent lung cancer? Antioxidants include certain vitamins and other nutrients that help mop up reactive oxygen species in the body.