Exposure to wildfire smoke increases cancer risk

FIRE

A new study from McGill University finds higher incidence of lung cancer and brain tumors in people exposed to wildfires.

The study, which tracks over two million Canadians over a period of 20 years, is the first to examine how proximity to forest fires may influence cancer risk.

“Wildfires tend to happen in the same locations each year, but we know very little about the long-term health effects of these events. Our study shows that living in close proximity to wildfires may increase the risk of certain cancers,” says Scott Weichenthal, who spoke to AM 1150 News. 

The study shows that people living within 50-kilometer of wildfires over the past 10 years had a 10 per cent higher incidence of brain tumors and 4.9 per cent higher incidence of lung cancer, compared to people living further away.

Wildfires typically occur in similar regions each year, and as a result, people living in nearby communities might be exposed to carcinogenic wildfire pollutants on a chronic basis, warn the researchers.