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More oxygen may lead to more tumors

Lung cancer risk drops at higher elevations where the air is thinner

7:00am, January 13, 2015
lung cancer risk drops at higher elevations, image

BREATHE EASY  Lower oxygen concentrations in the air may decrease lung cancer risks for people living at high altitude.

Breathing at sea level may be hazardous to your health, a new study hints. The research compared cancer rates for people at living at various elevations and found that lung cancer rates are lower at high elevations where the air is thinner.

If every person in the United States lived at elevations above 3,400 meters, such as atop Mount Hood in Oregon, there would be 65,496 fewer cases of lung cancer each year, researchers Kamen Simeonov and Daniel Himmelstein estimate. (In 2014, an estimated 224,210 new cases of lung cancer were expected to be diagnosed in the United States.) The findings could mean that lung cancer is linked to altitude — more specifically to the amount of oxygen in the air, the researchers report January 13 in PeerJ. Other cancers included in the study weren’t linked to altitude.

Simeonov and Himmelstein are not the first to note the health benefits of high-altitude living, says Paul

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