“Cells with cancer mutations naturally accumulate as we age, but they are normally inactive,” says Charles Swanton, a Cancer researcher at the Francis Crick Institute in the UK.
“We have demonstrated that air pollution ‘wakes up’ these cells in the lungs, encouraging them to develop and form potential tumors”, the researcher mentions.
These results, experts say, reiterate that air pollution is a major cause of lung cancer and underscore the need to take action to reduce pollution and protect public health.
“Traditionally, it is believed that carcinogens cause tumors by directly inducing DNA damage,” the authors of the study write in the aforementioned paper. But the new study supports a 76-year-old idea, which Swanton tweeted: “cancer starts in two steps: the presence of a driver gene (initiation) and then a second step where a cancer risk factor acts on these dormant cells to trigger the disease (promotion)’.
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