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Socioeconomic disparity in the association between fine particulate matter exposure and papillary thyroid cancer.

Environmental Health 2023 Februrary 24
BACKGROUND: Limited data exists suggesting that cumulative exposure to air pollution in the form of fine particulate matter (aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2.5 μm [PM2.5 ]) may be associated with papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC), although this relationship has not been widely established. This study aims to evaluate the association between PM2.5 and PTC and determine the subgroups of patients who are at the highest risk of PTC diagnosis.

METHODS: Under IRB approval, we conducted a case-control study of adult patients (age ≥ 18) newly diagnosed with PTC between 1/2013-12/2016 across a single health care system were identified using electronic medical records. These patients were compared to a control group of patients without any evidence of thyroid disease. Cumulative PM2.5 exposure was calculated for each patient using a deep learning neural networks model, which incorporated meteorological and satellite-based measurements at the patients' residential zip code. Adjusted multivariate logistic regression was used to quantify the association between cumulative PM2.5 exposure and PTC diagnosis. We tested whether this association differed by gender, race, BMI, smoking history, current alcohol use, and median household income.

RESULTS: A cohort of 1990 patients with PTC and a control group of 6919 patients without thyroid disease were identified. Compared to the control group, patients with PTC were more likely to be older (51.2 vs. 48.8 years), female (75.5% vs 46.8%), White (75.2% vs. 61.6%), and never smokers (71.1% vs. 58.4%) (p < 0.001). After adjusting for age, sex, race, BMI, current alcohol use, median household income, current smoking status, hypertension, diabetes, COPD, and asthma, 3-year cumulative PM2.5 exposure was associated with a 1.41-fold increased odds of PTC diagnosis (95%CI: 1.23-1.62). This association varied by median household income (p-interaction =0.03). Compared to those with a median annual household income <$50,000, patients with a median annual household income between $50,000 and < $100,000 had a 43% increased risk of PTC diagnosis (aOR = 1.43, 95%CI: 1.19-1.72), and patients with median household income ≥$100,000 had a 77% increased risk of PTC diagnosis (aOR = 1.77, 95%CI: 1.37-2.29).

CONCLUSIONS: Cumulative exposure to PM2.5 over 3 years was significantly associated with the diagnosis of PTC. This association was most pronounced in those with a high median household income, suggesting a difference in access to care among socioeconomic groups.

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