People living in hilly areas and at higher altitudes run less risk of developing lung cancer than those in plains, said a new study that is applicable to both smokers and non-smokers alike.
The study conducted by a student at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has found that for every 1,000-meter rise in elevation from the sea level, lung cancer incidence among people living in the hilly areas was noticeably getting decreased by 7.23 cases per 100,000 individuals.
One reason researchers attribute to hilly areas less prone to lung cancer is due to the requirement for high levels of oxygen, besides their physical activity.
The researchers have studied 260 counties in 11 western states of the US to have a median lung cancer rate of 56.8 cases per 100,000 people. However, the research failed to find similar effect on other diseases like colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer.
Researcher Kamen P Simeonov said the lower atmospheric pressure at higher levels of landelevations results in less inhaled oxygen, which is one-third less than plain or low-elevation areas.
The study also focused on other factors such as amount of sunlight, precipitation, temperature, and pollution, but said elevation performed by far the best on lung cancer. The second best (radon) was 10 caret 8 times worse and sunlight was over 10 caret 13 times worse, said the study which was published on Peer Journal.
Lung cancer claimed an estimated 159,260 lives in the US in 2014, mostly smokers and 15% non-smokers. Additional characterized risk factors include genetic susceptibility as well as environmental exposure to carcinogens such as radon, asbestos, and fine-particulate matter.