April 24, 2024
Health

Smoke from cooking carries health risks | News


Ethiopian woman cooking injera bread indoors over a wood fire

February 21, 2024 – In sub-Saharan Africa, cooking indoors with air polluting fuels may lead to higher risks of cancer and lung disease, particularly for women and children, according to experts.

Women breathe in unhealthy smoke when they cook indoors with biomass fuels such as wood, charcoal, and kerosene, according to a February 9 Cancerworld article. If they are pregnant, the fetus is exposed to the smoke as well. Exposure is linked with higher risks of esophageal and gastric cancers, as well as lung diseases like pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

To reduce the impact of unhealthy fuels, governments should increase the affordability and accessibility of cleaner fuels such as electricity and ethanol, said Matt Shupler, postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who was quoted in the article.

Shupler noted that policies should also aim to reduce outdoor air pollution. “Providing households with clean cooking fuels might not, by itself, lead to meaningful health benefits, if they are exposed to high PM2.5 levels when spending time outdoors,” he said.

Read the Cancerworld article: Not just a climate issue: cutting cancer rates through cleaner cooking fuels in Africa

Photo: iStock/Josep Maria Barres






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