In a session presented at the 2011 European Respiratory Society's Annual Congress, researchers presented a possible unexpected risk factor for lung cancer.
How in the world would someone begin to consider goats as a possible risk factor? It's not that far-fetched after all. One rare form of lung cancer - pneumatic-type lung adenocarcinoma (P-ADC) bears a resemblance to an infection that causes lung tumors in sheep. The theory is that perhaps the infection could be transmitted from goats to humans elevating the risk of human lung cancer.
In this study scientists compared 44 people with P-ADC to 132 people without lung cancer. They found that professional exposure to goats was linked with a risk of P-ADC 5 times higher than normal.
What does this mean? It's probably a bit premature to quit your job if you work with goats. This was a small study and further studies are needed to see if there is truly a cause for concern. But it is heartwarming to me to see studies that are looking for lung cancer causes other than smoking. At the current time 20% of women who develop lung cancer are life-long non-smokers. It's time we start looking for the other causes for sure. And - in rare cases - it might even have something to do with working with goats.
Goats Could Increase the Risk of a Rare Lung Cancer. European Respiratory Society Annual Congress. Amsterdam 2011.