Fossil Fuels Present Considerable Cancer Risks


Leticia Nogueira, PhD, MPH, discusses the cancer risks that fossil fuel consumption and climate change present.

Fossil fuel consumption presents severe health risks, including increased risks of several types of cancer. In an interview with Targeted OncologyTM, Leticia Nogueira, PhD, MPH, scientific director of health services research in the Surveillance & Health Equity Science department at the American Cancer Society, discusses the hazards that fracking and fossil fuel processing can lead to.


This understanding that comes even before cancer diagnosis, is that our fossil fuel infrastructure is a very dirty business. Right, so in addition to the air pollution that we all see when we drive our cars from vehicle emissions that we know is associated with increased risk for lung cancer, we have this infrastructure that is spread out throughout the country. The fracking wells, for example, can contaminate water sources. We saw the Ohio train derailment in the news on how transportation of fossil fuels can increase exposure to carcinogens in communities. So there is this understanding that by continuing to be reliant, to rely on fossil fuels, we are contaminating communities across the country and potentially increasing cancer risk in these places.

Exposure to benzene in some of the substances that are used in the fracking wells and some of these oil refineries have been associated with increased risk for several types of blood cancers. Liver—our liver processes or any toxins out of our system, so it's working harder when you're residing near some of these facilities. And so there's some association with liver cancer. Bladder cancer is another concern, and several blood cancers are some of the most obvious ones. And depending on the type of contamination, kidney cancer is a concern as well.

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