Ambient air pollution and primary liver cancer incidence in four European cohorts within the ESCAPE project

Marie Pedersen, Zorana J. Andersen, Massimo Stafoggia, Gudrun Weinmayr, Claudia Galassi, Mette Sørensen, Kirsten T. Eriksen, Anne Tjønneland, Steffen Loft, Andrea Jaensch, Gabriele Nagel, Hans Concin, Ming Yi Tsai, Sara Grioni, Alessandro Marcon, Vittorio Krogh, Fulvio Ricceri, Carlotta Sacerdote, Andrea Ranzi, Ranjeet SokhiRoel Vermeulen, Kees de Hoogh, Meng Wang, Rob Beelen, Paolo Vineis, Bert Brunekreef, Gerard Hoek, Ole Raaschou-Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Tobacco smoke exposure increases the risk of cancer in the liver, but little is known about the possible risk associated with exposure to ambient air pollution. Objectives We evaluated the association between residential exposure to air pollution and primary liver cancer incidence. Methods We obtained data from four cohorts with enrolment during 1985–2005 in Denmark, Austria and Italy. Exposure to nitrogen oxides (NO2and NOX), particulate matter (PM) with diameter of less than 10 µm (PM10), less than 2.5 µm (PM2.5), between 2.5 and 10 µm (PM2.5–10) and PM2.5 absorbance(soot) at baseline home addresses were estimated using land-use regression models from the ESCAPE project. We also investigated traffic density on the nearest road. We used Cox proportional-hazards models with adjustment for potential confounders for cohort-specific analyses and random-effects meta-analyses to estimate summary hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Results Out of 174,770 included participants, 279 liver cancer cases were diagnosed during a mean follow-up of 17 years. In each cohort, HRs above one were observed for all exposures with exception of PM2.5 absorbanceand traffic density. In the meta-analysis, all exposures were associated with elevated HRs, but none of the associations reached statistical significance. The summary HR associated with a 10-μg/m3increase in NO2was 1.10 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.93, 1.30) and 1.34 (95% CI: 0.76, 2.35) for a 5-μg/m3increase in PM2.5. Conclusions The results provide suggestive evidence that ambient air pollution may increase the risk of liver cancer. Confidence intervals for associations with NO2and NOXwere narrower than for the other exposures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-233
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Ambient air pollution
  • Cohort
  • Environment
  • Liver cancer
  • Motorized vehicle traffic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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