A new study co-authored by scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicates that incidences of cancers are higher in areas with poor environmental quality, with the strongest associations found with prostate and breast cancers.
Researchers used data from the EPA’s Environmental Quality Index, a tool that measures cumulative exposure to environmental factors, including air, water, land, sociodemographic factors, and the built environment, at a county level. They compared it to cancer incidences across the US (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) from 2006-2010. Their findings show that focusing on the association between single environmental exposures and cancer development, while necessary to understand specific mechanisms, may not address the broader environmental context in which cancers develop. This is one of the first studies to use an index of environmental quality to assess the burden of cumulative environmental exposures on cancer incidence.