Polonium and Lung Cancer

Categories: CancerLung cancer

Natural resources are simply resources occurring naturally which includes water, woods, coals, lead, and many more. These resources have benefited the lives of many people and also helped advance the evolution of industries and modernization of the world. However, due to the increasing development and overexploitation, it has led to the depletion of these resources due to which the world has now introduced the use of chemicals. Chemicals are used by people on a daily basis from using cosmetics to medicine and have also become a basis for production of many things.

Nevertheless, it has directly or indirectly imposed negative impact on the human health as well. In the early twentieth century, the growth of technologies had led to a rapid increase in the consumption of tobacco. In line to this, the author in the article describes the effects of a toxic element polonium-210 (210PO) on human health which is found in tobaccos.

As per Zagà et al. (2011) consuming tobacco smoke has been considered to be toxic to health since the early fifties which I agree with since tobacco smoke contains numerous poisonous substances including tar and nicotine and this tobacco cigarette has given a negative effect on human wellbeing.

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With Smoking and Radiation (n.d.) study in 1929, Surgeon General S. Cumming cautioned of the risks of tobacco, stating that the consumption of such a large number of tobacco create anxiety, sleeping disorder, and other sick effects among young people (NCBI, n.d.). Moreover, the accumulation of excessive tobacco smoke in our body can disturb the throat causing throat cancer.

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For example, Terrie Hall, a former cheerleader who had been introduced to smoking tobacco by her friends at the age of 13 was diagnosed with oral cancer and later to throat cancer. Despite many tobacco-related deaths and the negative impact it has on the environment, it is still widely used in many parts of the world from a small country like Bhutan to Europe where approximately 650000 people die every year due to smoking (Zagà et al., 2011).

As mentioned by the author, tobacco consists of toxic elements containing harmful radioactive substances like polonium-210 (210PO) which can solely produce cancer and can destroy one’s body and health by itself and so it is a major public health problem worldwide. Polonium-210 is an exceptionally poisonous component recognized as one of the threats to human health that can easily kill a cell and can often be called a “perfect poison” (Recknagel, 2013). In the year 2006, Litvinenko, a former Russian soldier was a victim of such death where he was diagnosed with rare syndromes that caused him to die later which upon investigation was discovered to be due to the presence of polonium-210 in his body causing him to die (MD, 2009). Every year about 11 million people around the world are diagnosed with cancer (Zagà et al., 2011). This is theoretically true since the tobacco epidemic has been announced by the WHO (World Health Organization), revealing the growth of smoking dependency impacting over 1.3 million people globally and bringing over 5.4 million tobacco-related deaths. Moreover, I believe that smoking tobacco is among the primary contributors to deaths globally, with lung cancer being the largest one.

In the early 20th century, lung cancer was an exceedingly rare illness, with almost no cases during the time (Zagà et al., 2011). Similarly, in mid-1899 there were just 140 cases enlisted every year in the United States (Ruegg, 2015). Whereas currently, there are more than 480,000 deaths which also includes 41,000 deaths owing to second-hand-smoking (“Smoking & Tobacco Use”, n.d.), which indicates that passive smoking is also a rising public health problem. With a large number of smokers, non-smokers in various societies are also being affected despite keeping themselves away from the direct contact of such chemicals. They are directly or indirectly inhaling polonium-210 which affects them in the long run.

In conclusion, it can be seen that tobacco has negative influence on the wellbeing of humans due to the presence of poisonous component polonium-210 in these tobaccos. The high absorption of this toxic tobacco smoke in the body has contributed towards many risks like lung and throat cancer as it is one of the most dangerous elements to be inhaled or consumed. This not only leads people to fast deaths but also introduces people to various diseases which sooner or later destroy the body, resulting in death. Further, it can be noted that it not only has an effect on the smokers but also on passive or non-smokers. Therefore, measures need to be taken to either completely discourage the production and sell of tobaccos containing these chemicals or at least come up with initiatives to make people aware of such lethal consequences.


  1. MD, J. B. (2009, March). ). Death by polonium-210: Lessons learned from the murder of former Soviet spy Alexander Litvinenko. Research Gate. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/24206298_Death_by_polonium-210_Lessons_learned_from_the_murder_of_former_Soviet_spy_Alexander_Litvinenko
  2. NCBI. (n.d.). The Health Consequences of Smoking. 50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK294310/?fbclid=IwAR3zW_k4jfz5JfhMwyXq-zfiOuIA3SiBV8ByttCs35bQaDJqsbODKixt96w
  3. Radiation and Your Health: Cigarette Smoking and Radiation. (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/radiation/smoking.htm
  4. Recknagel, C. (2013, November 13). Five Things You Should Know About Polonium. Retrieved from https://www.rferl.org/a/polonium-facts/25161473.html?fbclid=IwAR0iixdKSTKL52fZe-_V7o60otuyEB0lWjYu5Lk8TqDD8NnO2WfDQxEMPjw
  5. Ruegg, T. A. (2015, May 14). Historical Perspectives of the Causation of Lung Cancer. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5342645/
  6. Smoking & Tobacco Use: Tobacco-Releated Mortality. (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/tobacco_related_mortality/index.htm
  7. Zagà, V., Lygidakis, C., Chaoua, K., & Gattavecchia, G. (2011, June). Polonium and lung Cancer. Journal of Oncology,1-5. Retrieved from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jo/2011/860103/

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Polonium and Lung Cancer. (2021, Mar 25). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/polonium-and-lung-cancer-essay

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