Possible brain cancer-air pollution link to be studied

Los Angeles, CA The Brain Tumor and Air Pollution Foundation today announced the beginning of a research project led by an internationally renowned neurosurgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to explore a possible link between brain cancer and air pollution.

The study will be led by Keith Black, M.D., director of the Cedars-Sinai Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute and Division of Neurosurgery in Los Angeles. The Brain Tumor foundation recently awarded $559,250 to the research project, with funding from the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD).

The Cedars-Sinai investigation will examine biochemical and pathological changes in brain tissue of laboratory animals exposed to selected toxic air pollutants. These changes will be compared to those in human brain tumor tissue to determine whether air pollution causes changes in tissue associated with the formation of brain cancer.

Factors that led to the study include:

  • Research documenting that certain toxic air pollutants are known to cause cancer in humans;
  • An American Lung Association study that linked particulate pollution to lung cancer; and
  • At least one investigation that found a dramatic increase of brain cancer rates in a metropolitan area, with a possible link to air pollution.

At today's news conference, Dr. Black described the appearance of an increasing incidence in brain tumors in children and young people and noted that some estimates suggest brain cancers and other tumors of children's nervous systems rose by more than 25 percent between 1973 and 1996.

"Brain cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in young people," Black said.

"Among the potentially toxic products of concern are the ultrafine particles that come from diesel engines particles that would likely be plentiful along freeways, in congested metropolitan areas, and in the immediate vicinity of diesel-burning vehicles," Black said.


Contact: Sandra Van
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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